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Meningococcal B Vaccine Available in One Month

Wednesday 12 January 2005

Meningococcal B Vaccine Available in One Month

Families and whanau of pre-schoolers have only one month to wait before the Meningococcal B vaccine is available in the Tairawhiti district.

Around 3500 Tairawhiti pre-school children are eligible for the vaccine which is to be administered through GP practices from Valentines Day Monday 14 February 2005.

Each child will need three Meningococcal vaccinations spaced six weeks apart to ensure best protection against the deadly disease.

Free Meningococcal B immunisations will be available for school-age children from 4 April 2005. School leavers aged up to 19 years are also eligible for the free vaccination.

Tairawhiti’s month-long countdown to vaccination begins this Friday at Kaiti Kids in Kaiti Memorial Park and the Wainui Lions Beach Dig at Midway Beach.

Meningococcal B Vaccine Project Manager Jan Ewart said the events on Friday provided perfect opportunities to raise awareness of the Meningococcal vaccine as hundreds of children and their families were expected to attend.

“Tairawhiti is known to be a high risk area for Meningococcal B. Between 1999 and 2004, 41 Tairawhiti people contracted the disease. Two people have died during that time.

These deaths and the stories of a number of local families affected by Meningococcal disease have inspired a local song about the campaign. The song was written by the Sun Fun Company who will perform it live for the first time on Friday.

Featuring English and Maori lyrics the rap song will become a major feature of the campaign.

“It is a poignant but fun and accessible way to inform families about the importance of vaccination,” Ms Ewart said.

“Why do our people just sit back and watch? It’s time for the younger generation to lead this nation Open your eyes, there's something really deadly out there Let’s be aware - so take care.” During Kaiti Kids and the Wainui Lions Beach Dig nurses and Meningococcal vaccine promoters will be distributing free information about the vaccinations, as well as reminders of the campaign such as pens, drink bottles and t-shirts. The vaccination is free, safe, and offers the best protection against the Meningococcal B strain, which is currently at epidemic proportions in this country, said Ms Ewart.

“Our goal is to make sure that at least 90 per cent of our young ones are protected from this disease which has already touched the lives of so many of our families. We must all do what we can to end this epidemic.”

At Friday’s events members of the public will easily find campaign promotional staff and information under the yellow banners and signage developed in line with the national campaign.

Ms Ewart expects strong demand for resource material about Meningococcal B.

“There is a high level of awareness about the disease in Tairawhiti and a lot of people are hungry for information.”

Tairawhiti is the fourth region to benefit from the vaccine strategy which is part of a national $200-million programme targeting more than a million New Zealanders. The campaign started in Counties Manukau in July 2004 and is being implemented progressively throughout the country.

ENDS

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