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94% consent rate meningococcal B programme

94% consent rate emerging for Otago school-based meningococcal B programme

The overall consent rate for the Otago school-based meningococcal B programme is very high, MeNZB School Based Campaign Co-Leader Peter Bassett said today.

By Friday afternoon a total of 20,000 school consent forms had been processed and entered into the data base, with 94% consenting to the vaccination. Mr Bassett said two thirds of all Otago consent forms had now been processed and the consent rate was indicative of the final total.

All students enrolled at Otago schools have been 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.

“That’s a total of 30,000 Otago school students eligible to take part in the programme, which starts on May 30,” said Mr Bassett. “Students will receive three vaccinations approximately six weeks apart.

Mr Bassett said the success of the programme in reaching its 90 per cent target rate had depended largely on the return of the consent forms.

We have had a very high return rate of consent forms from the 153 secondary, intermediate primary and area schools across Otago,” he said.

“We are fairly confident that we will be vaccinating more than 90% of all school children in Otago.

Some schools have returned 100% of the consent forms distributed. They include Warrington School, Catlins Area School and Tahuna School, which returned 99%.

“This is a fantastic response from the community and shows that most parents are aware of seriousness of meningococcal B disease,” said Mr Bassett.

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.

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 are grateful for the support from parents,” 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 weeks 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. 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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