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Consent Forms Crucial for School Aged Vaccination

Media Statement

Thursday 10 March 2005

Consent Forms Crucial for School Aged Children Vaccination

Over 9500 of the district’s school-age children are to be sent home with Meningococcal B vaccination consent forms starting from next week, ahead of the biggest school-based vaccination programme ever attempted.

School-aged children will receive the first of their three vaccinations needed for protection against Meningococcal B from Monday 4 April.

Vaccinating all the district’s school children is a huge task and Public Health and Rural Health Nurses will stagger the schools they visit over the next five months, says Meningococcal B Vaccine Project Coordinator Jan Ewart.

Children from Cobham, Elgin and Tikitiki Schools, and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Nga Uri A Maui, will be the first to receive the vaccination.

“This means those kids will also be in the first group to receive the consent forms. We need children to take them home, get them signed, and return them to school or the kura as soon as possible.”

Ms Ewart said if a parent or caregiver chooses not to have their child vaccinated, the consent form still had to be marked accordingly, and returned.

Cobham School principal Gordon Pepere was thrilled the 85 school children attending Cobham School will be some of the district’s first to be vaccinated.

He said staff have been raising awareness of the campaign since late last year. Students will be able to take their consent forms home to their families from next week.

“We’ll be encouraging the parents to take advantage of the vaccination at the school. The simple reason is, the kids are already here, it’s easy to have them vaccinated here, much easier than having to take the children to a doctor.”

Mr Pepere said Cobham School children are expected to receive the first of their three vaccinations in the school library on Monday April 4 and parents are welcome to be with their children if they chose.

Around 1700 doses of the Meningococcal B Disease vaccine have been administered since it became available in Tairawhiti on February 14. Most of these have been to children aged under five.

Ms Ewart said the real challenge for the community will be getting all of the eligible age group – 6 months to 19 years old - fully vaccinated.

“This requires a commitment from families. Remember immunisation with the Meningococcal B vaccine involves receiving three doses of the vaccine, 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.”

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.

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.”

Parents and caregivers with pre-school children, and school leavers, are reminded to visit their GP for the their three vaccinations. It is really important for this group to get these vaccinations started as soon as possible.

ENDS

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