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2nd dose of meningococcal B vaccine starts today

11 July 2005

2nd dose of meningococcal B vaccine starts today

The second dose of the meningococcal B vaccine will begin to be delivered today in Otago.

The campaign to immunise almost 50,000 babies, children and young people aged up to 20 years in Otago against Meningococcal B disease began on 30 May and has now been running for six weeks.

It is estimated that so far, more than 29 427 doses of the vaccine have been delivered in Otago. It is aimed to reach a 90% target of the total number of babies, school children and young people under 20. This represents around 45,000 doses.

Around 10,000 babies and young children aged from 6 weeks to five years and 9000 school-leavers aged from 16-20 will be immunised through general practices; and 30,000 school-children will be immunised through Otago’s school-based vaccination programme.

Each person requires three injections delivered six weeks apart to be fully immunised, which will require up to 150,000 doses of the MeNZB vaccine by 31 October.

The Meningococcal B epidemic is in its 15th year in New Zealand. The vaccine, called MeNZB, provides protection against the epidemic strain of meningococcal disease. MeNZB is free, and is safe, having been extensively tested.

There are no live meningococcal bacteria in the MeNZB™ vaccine. I It is not possible to catch the disease, or to become a carrier of the disease, from the vaccine.

The vaccination programme is being delivered through all of Otago’s 58 medical practices by GPs and practice nurses; and through Otago’s 153 primary, intermediate and secondary schools through the school-based vaccination programme delivered by Public Health South.

Medical Officer of Health in Otago and acting campaign sponsor Dr John Holmes today said the vaccination rate in Otago was very good when measured against other district health board campaigns throughout New Zealand.

“We are confident that we will reach our targets,” said Dr Holmes.

He said it was important that parents of children who have not received their first dose of the vaccine be reassured that it’s not too late.

“If your child is still to receive the first dose of the vaccine give your General Practitioner and Practice Nurse a ring or call into your GP practice and make an appointment. If your child is at school, contact Public Health South.

The school-based programme run by Public Health South has now completed the first round of vaccinations in Otago’s 153 schools. At the beginning of the next school term, in the week of 25 July, the programme will start to deliver the second dose.

“On the day that your child is to be vaccinated, please ensure they have a good breakfast and are generally in good health,” said Dr Holmes.

A campaign targeting young people aged 16-20 will be launched on Wednesday at Otago University. The University begins its second semester this week. It is aimed to immunise more than 4500 students under 20.

Important facts

For every 100 people who get Meningococcal disease, on average four will die, 20 will suffer a permanent and serious physical disability and many others will have ongoing behavioural or learning difficulties.

The disease causes more hospitalisations and fatalities than any other notifiable disease in New Zealand.

Since 1991, New Zealand has had an average of about 400 meningococcal disease cases per year.

Before the epidemic began, there were about 50 cases of meningococcal disease per year in New Zealand.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of meningococcal B disease in the developed world, most cases have been caused by a strain called B:4:P1,7b.4.

The epidemic is expected to last for another six to eight years if there is no vaccine intervention.

Meningococcal disease can affect anyone, but those under 20 years of age are at greatest risk, with children under five years being most at risk

ENDS

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