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Vax consent forms crucial for school aged children

Consent forms crucial for school aged meningococcal vaccination

Over 15,000 Otago secondary, intermediate and area school students will be sent home with Meningococcal B vaccination consent forms next week, as part of the biggest school-based vaccination programme ever carried out in New Zealand.

Primary school students will bring home their consent forms during the first week of term two.

All students enrolled at Otago schools will be offered the chance to take part in the vaccination campaign, providing they bring back their consent form signed by a parent or guardian. Young people over the age of 16 are able to sign the consent form themselves but are strongly encouraged to discuss this with their parents.

A total of 30,000 Otago school students will be eligible to take part in the programme, which starts on May 30. Students will receive three vaccinations approximately six weeks apart.

Group Manager Public Health South/ MeNZB School Based Campaign Co-Leader Peter Bassett said the success of the programme in reaching its 90 per cent target rate depended largely on the return of the consent forms.

“No child will be vaccinated without a signed consent form. We urge parents to actively look out for the consent form in their child’s school bag, and return it to school promptly,” Mr Bassett said.

Mr Bassett said registered nurses employed by Public Health South would look through each of the 30,000 consent forms to ensure they had been filled in correctly.

“Only when a student suffers a serious medical condition, such as an anaphylactic reaction to a previous vaccine, will a student be referred to their general practitioner. In all other instances school-aged children will be vaccinated at their school,” he said.

Mr Bassett reminded parents that children under the age of five, and young people who have left school (but not yet turned 20 years of age) will need to go to their general practitioner (family doctor) for the vaccinations.

“The Meningococcal B vaccination programme is the biggest public health intervention New Zealand has ever known, and it will place some pressure on schools this year. The campaign is also a challenge for the health services tasked with implementing it, and we would be grateful for as much support from parents as possible,” Mr Bassett said.

Background

The Meningococcal B vaccination programme is funded by the Ministry of Health and is currently available to anyone aged over six months and under 20 years of age.

New Zealand is experiencing an epidemic of Meningococcal B disease. The disease can cause serious and life-long disability, or death.

School students will be offered immunisation at school, while children not attending school, children under five years of age and other young people who have left school will be immunised by their doctor or practice nurse.

Vaccination with the MeNZB vaccine offers protection against the epidemic strain of meningococcal bacteria but not against other strains of meningococcal disease.

All three vaccinations are needed to protect an individual against the disease.

The vaccine has undergone extensive clinical trials, and is safe.

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