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Father of "baby Charlotte" to address meeting

24 June 2005

Father of "baby Charlotte" to address public meeting next week on meningococcal B

A special visitor to Dunedin next week will make a heart-felt plea to parents to have their children immunised against Meningococcal B.

Perry Bisman will be speaking at a public meeting in Dunedin on Thursday 30 June at the Colquhoun Theatre at Dunedin Hospital (on Gt King St) starting at 7pm.

Mr Bisman's family has through tragic circumstances become major promoters of the Meningococcal B campaign.

Mr Bisman's baby daughter Charlotte contracted Meningococcal B just days before the vaccination campaign began in Auckland.

While Charlotte survived the disease her life has been forever touched. In order to save her life surgeons were forced to remove all four of her limbs.

While her story is heart breaking it is particularly relevant to Dunedin parents as they continue to support their children being vaccinated against Meningococcal B both in Primary Care and the School Based Campaigns. Mr Bisman and his family, while living in the Auckland District Health Board catchment area, actually live on Waiheke Island and didn't have any of what many people consider the classic risk factors for the disease.

While statistically people living in over-crowded homes are some of the most at risk Mr Bisman knows only too well that Meningococcal B disease can strike anyone at any time.

In Otago, almost 50,000 children and young people are eligible for the free vaccination.

Otago meningococcal programme leader Dr Roy Morris said he hoped parents would come and here Mr Bisman's story.

Dr Morris said parents needed to be well informed when making their decision to vaccinate against Meningococcal B.

He said while there were plenty of scientific and health reasons for vaccinating against Meningococcal B having someone parents could relate to on a personal level was important.

"Parents need to hear from someone who has seen how this disease can change children's lives."

John Holmes, Medical Officer for Health in Otago will also be at the meeting to answer any questions people may have.


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