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Meningococcal B Six months on

Media Release

24 August 2005

Meningococcal B Six months on

Six months after launching the MeNZB immunization programme, Tairawhiti remains among the leaders in coverage.

According to Project Manager Jan Ewart, 34,120 doses of the meningococcal vaccine have been administered to date, with more to come. A full individual course consists of three doses, administered at six-week intervals.

“We still have a way to go to reach our aim of 90 per cent coverage for all three injections for those under 20,” said Ms. Ewart, “but we are hopeful that Tairawhiti can eventually achieve that goal.”

The latest Ministry of Health statistics for Tairawhiti indicate that, of those under 5 years, 82.6 per cent have received Dose 1, while the numbers of Doses 2 and 3 stand at 68.5 per cent and 51.5 per cent, respectively.

In the school-age group, 91.6 per cent have received dose 1, 86.4 per cent Dose 2, and 65.9 per cent Dose 3.

School leavers, however, are lagging behind, with 41.5 per cent having receiving Dose 1; 29.2 per cent Dose 2; and 15.8 per cent Dose 3.

Ms. Ewart stressed the importance of everyone who is eligible to participate in the programme to do so, as the vaccine will only be available to such a wide group until mid-2006.

“The groups that haven’t started, or are falling behind, and who we really want to encourage to participate, are tamariki Maori under five years and school leavers,” said Ms. Ewart. “It’s important to remember that it’s not too late to start, and that you require all three vaccinations for best protection.”

While the main thrust of the school programme has been completed, a small team is providing “catch-up” clinics at schools over the next few weeks to ensure all those who have consented to vaccination are immunised. Vaccinations are also available from GPs.

Ms. Ewart noted 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 could still occur.

“You need to be on the lookout for symptoms and then seek urgent medical treatment if they are present,” she said.

For more information on the MeNZB programme, talk with staff from your general practice, contact the Public Health Unit (867-9119), phone the MeNZB Hotline at 0800 20 30 90, or use the Internet to check out www.immunise.moh.govt.nz.

ENDS

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