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Ready, Steady, Vaccinate!

Media Statement

Wednesday 9 February 2005

Ready, Steady, Vaccinate!

Puhi Kaiti is among 16 Tairawhiti GP practices gearing-up to vaccinate the district’s 3500 pre-schoolers against Meningococcal B from Valentines Day Monday 14 February.

Puhi Kaiti Practice Nurse Nga Kay says at least 500 six-month to four-year-olds are expected to be vaccinated by Puhi Kaiti staff alone.

“We are preparing for a peak in workload from February 14 all the way through to the middle of the year. By that time we expect most under-fives will have received the three, free and safe injections they need for best protection,” she said.

Mrs Kay said from February 14 Puhi Kaiti will open extra hours allowing everyone to have their children and mokopuna vaccinated.

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

“The sooner we start fighting back against this deadly disease the sooner we can stop hearing about our mokopuna falling ill.”

Mrs Kay said Puhi Kaiti has employed one additional nurse to assist with the expected increase in work. To further ensure everyone can be seen, in the first two weeks Puhi Kaiti will be open until 8pm Monday, Tuesday Wednesday and Friday, as well as 9.30am-5pm Saturday and Sunday.

“Our advice to people is to get along to us as soon as you can to ensure mokopuna are protected from Meningococcal disease.”

City Medical in Derby Street has also employed extra staff so all their under-five-year-old patients can be immunised quickly and smoothly.

Practice Manager Jill Davidson said Meningococcal B clinics will run from 11am-2pm every day except Fridays. People are encouraged to visit with their children, or phone ahead and make an appointment. Vaccinations can also be done on Saturday 19 February between 9am and 12 noon.

“It’s all hands on deck for the first few weeks and we are encouraging parents and caregivers to bring their kids in as soon as they can. By now parents and caregivers should have received information and a reminder from our practice about the need to be vaccinated.”

Both GP practices have started to fill their waiting rooms with the distinctive yellow posters, pamphlets and in some cases balloons being used nationally to advertise the campaign.

Tairawhiti Meningococcal Vaccine Programme Project Manager Jan Ewart said Puhi Kaiti and City Medical’s approach was similar to many of the district’s other GP practices. She encouraged the public to contact their local GP Practice for more information on individual opening hours.

“Vaccination is the most effective way to combat this Meningococcal B epidemic and there are people working together all over the district to get this programme off the ground and make it a success,” she said.

“Maori and Pacific Island people are most affected by the disease and our Maori health providers are preparing for the challenge of reaching children in the most far-flung corners of Tairawhiti. They will be pivotal to the programme’s success in this region.”

At Te Whare Hauora o Ngati Porou in Te Puia Springs this week the Meningococcal B Vaccination campaign was launched with a local song about the campaign and support from Tairawhiti District Health Board member Lois McCarthy Robinson.

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 from their GP Practice any time from February 14.

The Tairawhiti programme is part of a national $200 million vaccination programme targeting more than a million New Zealanders. The programme is planned to combat the Meningococcal B epidemic which has gripped New Zealand for more than 10 years.


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