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10,000 Tairawhiti Doses of MeNZB

Media Statement
Monday 9 May 2005

10,000 Tairawhiti Doses of MeNZB

Tairawhiti’s 10,000th dose of the MeNZB vaccine was administered last week as the campaign to combat Meningococcal B continues in this district.

Throughout Tairawhiti for the past three months babies, youngsters, school-age children and school leavers continue to receive the series of vaccinations against the epidemic strain of group B Meningococcal disease.

Immunisation with the MeNZB vaccine involves receiving three doses of the vaccine, each one about six weeks apart. It can then take a further four weeks for the body to develop protection against the disease.

Meningococcal B Vaccine Strategy Project Manager Jan Ewart said most under-five-year-olds were due to start receiving their third vaccination this month. Meanwhile, 75% of school-age children had received the first of their vaccinations.

‘’On any given day we have one or two vaccinating teams out in the Gisborne schools. This week for example the teams are visiting Campion College, Gisborne Intermediate, Gisborne Boys High School and Gisborne Girls High School.”

Vaccinating teams from Ngati Porou Hauora Primary Health Organisation are vaccinating up the East Coast, visiting schools, and hosting clinics for under-five-year-olds in GP practices or at kohanga reo

Ms Ewart reminded parents that school-age children can be vaccinated only if they have returned the yellow consent forms distributed by the schools earlier this month.

“While primary school age children have been brilliant at returning their forms, there are still some high school aged children who have yet to return theirs. Anyone who hasn’t returned their form can contact the Public Health Unit, school or kura their child attends and request another one. It isn’t too late to get these forms back, so check those school bags now!”

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

School leavers aged up to 19 years have been eligible for the free vaccination from their GP Practice since February 14.

“The indication to date is that this group has been very slow to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated and need to be reminded that they are not bullet proof and they too are at risk from this deadly disease.”

Local figures on the uptake by this group should be available over the next week.

Following a recent Ministry of Health decision, younger babies in Tairawhiti can now also get MeNZB vaccine protection from six weeks of age. Parents and caregivers with babies from this age can have their child vaccinated at their GP practice.

The risk of a child under the age of one year catching meningococcal disease is 10 times greater than the national average.

Ms Ewart reminded people that Tairawhiti is known to be a high risk area for Meningococcal B disease. 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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