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Hosea Supports Tairawhiti’s Meningococcal Campaign

Hurricanes winger Hosea Gear Supports Tairawhiti’s Meningococcal Campaign

Hurricanes winger and former Gisborne Boys High student Hosea Gear is back in Gisborne this weekend lending his support to the Meningococcal B Vaccine Strategy. Gear recently turned 21 and gets to take a quick break this weekend as the Hurricanes have a bye before hosting the Highlanders in Wellington on Friday 22 April. Gear will be at the Gisborne Netball Courts on Saturday 16 April promoting the local campaign which aims to vaccinate everyone aged between six months old and 19-years-old against the deadly Meningococcal B disease.

Gear will be at the courts from 10:30am –11am along with his 19-year-old partner who is also originally from Gisborne and supports vaccination. She will be immunised when the vaccination becomes available in Wellington.

Around 15,000 youth aged under-19 are eligible for the free vaccine which has been available in the district since February 14.

Of those, 3500 are aged under-five years, and 9500 are of school-age. Another 2000 are school-leavers either studying or working.

Meningococcal B Vaccine Strategy Project Manager Jan Ewart says the older age group is the hardest to reach.

“We have visited Tairawhiti Polytechnic, Te Wananga O Aotearoa and a number of other places where school leavers are. Many of course are working and to make contact with them we have used the expertise of Employ Health nurses who are already visiting many workplaces.”

So far 108 school-leavers have been vaccinated.

Ms Ewart encouraged anyone falling into the school-leavers category to contact their GP practice to make an appointment to receive their vaccination.

“It doesn’t cost anything. And please encourage everyone else your age to do the same.”

Ms Ewart said thousands of pre-schoolers and school age children had been vaccinated in the district.

Already 2495 under-fives have received their first, of the three vaccinations required for best immunisation. Vaccinations for this age group are carried out at GP practices.

School-age vaccinating began in local schools earlier this month and 2085 school-age children have received their first vaccination. School-based vaccinating will resume on May 2 after the school holidays.

Ms Ewart said there is a six-week gap between each jab.

“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.”

Ms Ewart said under-five-year-olds who had not received the first vaccination could still do so.

“It’s not too late to begin the process and have your child vaccinated for free.”

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.”

ENDS

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