It's not too late to protect against Men B
MEDIA RELEASE 18 March 2005
Parents reminded it’s not too late to protect against Men B
Parents living in the Waitemata District are being reminded it’s not too late to have their school-aged children vaccinated against meningococcal B disease.
The programme to protect young people against New Zealand’s epidemic strain of meningococcal B disease began in the first Rodney, North Shore and Waitakere schools yesterday.
Day one and two of the programme across the Waitemata District have run smoothly, with around 3,500 students receiving their first first dose of MeNZBTM vaccine from public health nurses.
However Regional Project Manager for the school-based campaign, Craig Murray, says parents who may not have returned their child’s consent form have not left it too late.
“Even if our public health nurses have already visited a child’s school, parents can still return the form consenting to the vaccine. We’ll simply start their child with dose one of the course when we’re back at the school to administer dose two.”
Mr Murray says that a ‘mop-up’ process at the end of the campaign will ensure those students who do start a little later will receive their third dose to complete the course.
Carol Thomas, Operations Manager for Waitemata DHB’s Child and Family Service, says it is important parents know the opportunity still exists to protect their children.
“On average over the last five years meningococcal disease has claimed the life of one person every three weeks.
“We know that about 75 per cent of cases in New Zealand are caused by the epidemic B strain of the disease and that’s what we’re vaccinating against.”
Around 90,000 Waitemata students are eligible for the MeNZBTM vaccine, which involves three shots given about six weeks apart.
Ms Thomas says most children will have a sore red arm after the vaccination but this is expected and should last only a few days
Immunised students also receive a post-vaccination form to take home for parents with information about how to care for any reactions.
While it can affect anyone, 80 per cent of cases are in people aged up to 19 years, with the fast-moving disease causing serious illness, including blood poisoning (septicaemia) and meningitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord lining).
It takes a month from the third dose of the vaccine before immunity is built up so it is important to still watch for signs and symptoms of the disease – even when a person is vaccinated.
Vigilance is also important because the MeNZBTM vaccine will not protect against other strains of meningococcal disease.
As at March 6th, over 542,000 doses of MeNZBTM vaccine had been given.
People wanting more information can call 0800 20 30 90 or 0800 Immune (0800 466 863), or they can visit www.immunise.moh.govt.nz or www.immune.org.nz.