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MeNZBTM vaccination programme passes milestones

7 April 2005

MeNZBTM vaccination programme passes significant milestones

The Meningococcal B vaccine is now available to half of all under 20 year olds in New Zealand and nearly 160,000 young New Zealanders have completed the three dose vaccination programme.

The programme director, Dr Jane O'Hallahan says: "These are significant milestones in our bid to protect the health of our young people and beat this epidemic. More than 158,000 people under the age of 20 have had their three vaccinations with MeNZB, which reflects a huge amount of work and dedication from parents and health professionals. But our children deserve it."

With the start of the vaccination programme at the Whanganui District Health Board (DHB) , the vaccine is now available to more than half of the eligible population. The aim is to vaccinate 1.15 million New Zealanders under the age of 20, who are the people most at risk of being disabled, maimed or killed by this disease.

So far this year, there have been 53 cases of meningococcal disease and 3 deaths.

"While completing the vaccination course provides the best protection against the epidemic strain of meningococcal B disease, it is important to remain vigilant. There are other strains of meningococcal disease and no vaccine is 100 percent effective. The vaccine plus continued vigilance is the best protection," Dr O'Hallahan says.

More information is available from: 0800 20 30 90, or www.immunise.moh.govt.nz, or

ENDS

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