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Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme


Media Release
20 December 2004

Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme


Independent experts have reinforced their endorsement of the safety of the vaccine used in the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme.

The Independent Safety Monitoring Board said it had no concerns in relation to the safety of MeNZBTM vaccine after it met last week to consider data from the first 19 weeks of the immunisation programme.

The Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme is planned to roll out to the rest of New Zealand through 2005. The vaccine will be made available to everyone aged from 6 months to those young people aged under-20 years.

Meningococcal Vaccine Strategy director Dr Jane O’Hallahan said the findings of the Independent Safety Monitoring Board provide further confirmation that immunisation with MeNZBTM vaccine is safe.

“The MeNZBTM vaccine is the best way to help protect against the epidemic strain of meningococcal B disease in New Zealand.”

The latest confirmation of the safety of MeNZBTM vaccine comes after the Independent Safety Monitoring Board (ISMB) reviewed more than 351,000 doses of MeNZB™ vaccine administered to more than 155,000 children and young people in the Auckland region from 19 July to 28 November 2004.

The safety monitoring systems work with both real-time and retrospective data from multiple sources. The data are assessed by a group of clinicians and epidemiologists independent from the Ministry of Health, independent from the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme, and independent from the clinical trials of MeNZBTM vaccine. The Independent Safety Monitoring Board was established by the Health Research Council and is made up of international experts in vaccines, paediatrics and epidemiology. The Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring is run by Otago University.

“We have established a world-class system of monitoring which is confirming for us the MeNZBTM vaccine is safe. This endorsement of safety, coupled with the extraordinary coverage results achieved to date can give the public great confidence in the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme. Based on the excellent results to date, and with another huge effort to get more children and young people immunised in 2005, the epidemic of meningococcal B disease in this country will be controlled,” Dr O’Hallahan said.

Ends

Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme free phone: 0800 20 30 90 website: www.immunise.moh.govt.nz

ENDS


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