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Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme

3 February 2005

Licence extension for Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme

Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme director Jane O'Hallahan welcomes the news of the licence extension for the MeNZB vaccine.

"This is wonderful news for parents of new babies," she says.

"Children aged under one year old are most at risk of contracting meningococcal disease. Between 1999 and 2003, 222 babies aged under six months of age contracted meningococcal disease and 232 babies aged between six and 12 months of age.

"The licence extension means that from today the MeNZB vaccine will be available for babies aged from six weeks old in the Counties Manukau, Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards (DHBs), where an intensive safety monitoring programme is in place.

"It is expected that the MeNZB vaccine will be made available to babies aged from six weeks in the rest of the country later this year.

"We are delighted we can now offer the protection of the MeNZB vaccine to younger babies in the Auckland area," Dr O'Hallahan says.

"A large number of dedicated people have enabled this licence extension to become a reality. These include national and international experts in meningococcal disease and immunisation as well as the parents of young babies who volunteered their infants to take part in the clinical trial that has taken place in south Auckland.

"We are extremely grateful to all these people for the huge effort that has gone into gaining this protection for those most at risk.

"It is important for parents to ensure their children and young people get their three doses of the MeNZB vaccine when the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme is available in their area.

"At the same time, it is essential that everyone remains vigilant for the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease because the vaccine offers protection only against the epidemic strain of the disease which causes most but not all cases in New Zealand," Dr O'Hallahan says.

ENDS

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