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Otago a benchmark for meningococcal B campaign

Otago a benchmark for South Island on meningococcal B campaign

Otago’s meningococcal B vaccination campaign progress is very definitely on track and compares favourably with many other regions around the country, according to the Ministry of Health Relationship Manager for Otago District Health Board, Ann Shaw.

“Now the hard yards begin,” said Ms Shaw. “It is so important to not get complacent, but to keep plugging away at the segments of the population that are not faring so well in the statistics.”

These include young people who have left school and are under 20. According to the latest statistics, around 54% of all Otago’s 18 and 19 year olds had been vaccinated with dose one.

Ms Shaw said today for this age group, Otago was currently tracking above the national figure of around 43%.

“But it’s really important to keep trying to get through to this age group and to get those statistics up towards the 90% target,” she said.” Maori and Pacific island figures, particularly for under 5 year olds and for young people under 20 who have left school, are lower than we would like to see, so it is important for the DHB and community to determine why, and come up with strategies to improve them , she said.

Overall, as of Monday 29 August, dose one of the meningococcal B vaccine has been delivered to 38,692 of Otago’s under 20 year olds. This represents 78.2% of the total number of young people aged under 20 in Otago. The target is 90%. This compares well with the current national figure of 78.6% for delivery of dose one to all of New Zealand’s under 20 year olds, and with other South Island regions.

“Otago also shows a continuing gradual increase in its dose one figures, which was heartening to see,” Ms Shaw said.

“Many other regions around New Zealand have experienced an initial sharp rise in the figures and then they plateau out. This doesn’t seem to be the case in Otago.”

Otago meningococcal B programme sponsor Dr Roy Morris said it was crucial that general practices maintained their momentum and continued to approach the families of under 20s to encourage them to make an appointment for vaccination.

Dr Morris said it is vital that parents of under 5 year olds who have not yet been vaccinated understand it is not too late to start. They shouldn’t feel embarrassed if they haven’t had the vaccination yet, he said.

“It is just as important that young people aged 16-20, who are not at school, and have not yet been vaccinated made an appointment at their local medical practice for the vaccination.

“We are aware that there is some reluctance among the 16-20 year old age group due to a fear that the vaccination will hurt, or that they will suffer adverse side effects.

“The vaccination is similar to any other vaccination that they may have received in the past,” said Dr Morris. “Most children and young people will have reactions such as short term soreness, swelling or redness where the injection was given, and probably no worse than falling off your skate board.

“In addition other reactions may occur such as: slight temperature or headache; feeling drowsy or irritable; nausea, feeling unwell, muscle and joint pain,” said Dr Morris.

These reactions may last from a few hours to a few days.

Dr Morris said it was also very important that people understood they must have three doses of the vaccination to be fully immunised. Each dose should be administered approximately six weeks apart.

If your child is at school, they will they will have until October 2005 to receive their first vaccination, and until early 2006 if they are receiving the vaccination through the GP.

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