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Valentines Day Vaccinations!

Monday 14 February 2005

Valentines Day Vaccinations!

Show Valentines Day love for your children and have them vaccinated against Meningococcal B disease from today, says Vaccine Project Manager Jan Ewart.

The first stage of Tairawhiti’s Meningococcal B vaccine programme began today with about 3500 Tairawhiti pre-school children aged from six months to five years scheduled to receive the first of three Meningococcal B vaccinations through the district’s GP practices.

There will be a six-week gap between each jab.

Children aged under five will be followed by around 9,500 school children who will be vaccinated in schools from the middle of April through to July.

Ms Ewart said letters had been sent to thousands of parents and caregivers enrolled in the district’s 16 GP practices ahead of the Valentines vaccination start day.

Many practices have employed extra staff and are opening extra hours over the next few weeks to ensure the smooth vaccination of all the district’s under fives.

“We think we have got everything in place. All over the district extra vaccinators have been trained, and GP Practices have employed extra staff. Some have decided to open extra hours.”

Ms Ewart said there was overwhelming support for the programme in the local community. She said most parents were aware that some children who receive the immunisation may feel some level of discomfort from the injection.

“This is normal. Some toddlers may end up with redness or some swelling in the area where they get their immunisation. Coming face-to-face with an injection is difficult, but better a sore arm or leg for a while, than an amputated limb as a result of suffering Meningococcal disease.”

Ms Ewart said it was important to remember that while the Meningococcal immunisation should end the group B Meningococcal disease epidemic, a small number of cases caused by other strains of the illness will still occur.

“So you still need to be on the lookout for symptoms and need to seek urgent medical treatment if they are present.”

“Immunisation with the MeNZB vaccine involves receiving three doses of the vaccine, each one about six weeks apart. It can then take a further four weeks for the body to develop protection against the epidemic strain of group B Meningococcal disease.”

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

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.

ENDS

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