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Otago meningococcal B campaign strong results

Otago 3rd equal nationally for dose 3 coverage after only 27 weeks – but more work needed to reach targets

The Otago meningococcal B campaign is demonstrating strong results, achieving third equal in its dose three coverage of the key target group of under 5 year olds after just 27 weeks of vaccinating.

A recent Ministry of Health analysis shows that the Otago result compares with Counties Manukau District Health Board area which achieved the overall best results in the age group after 72 weeks (or 18 months) of vaccinating. The campaign aims to vaccinate all babies, children and young people aged between 6 weeks and 20 years. Three doses of the vaccine are required delivered approximately six weeks apart.

The Ministry report said that dose 3 coverage for all eligible under 5 year olds in New Zealand has now reached 65%. While this is still well below the adjusted target for those eligible by age to receive their third dose of 84%, it represents an increase of 5% in November. The highest individual DHB coverage figures achieved are 77% in Counties Manukau DHB; 72% in Auckland and 69% in Otago and Waitemata.

AT the time of the analysis Otago had been vaccinating for just 27 weeks compared with 72 weeks for Counties Manukau.

National coverage is highest in the non Maori/non Pacific population (73%). Coverage in this group has now overtaken Pacific coverage (71%).

Otago are now into the 29th week of the campaign. Around 125,000 MeNZB doses have been delivered to young people aged between 6 weeks and 20 years. 85% of the target group has received their first dose. 83% have received dose 2 and 77% dose 3.

Nationally, the take-up of the vaccine is very encouraging with more than 2.84 million doses administered to more than 1 million children and young people.

Otago meningococcal B campaign sponsor Dr Roy Morris said while the Ministry report was heartening for the Otago campaign, there was still much work to be done, particularly amongst the youth population (16-20 year olds not in school); and among the Māori population of Otago.

“We’re not there yet,” said Dr Morris. “We can’t afford to be complacent. GP practices still have a vital role to play in this campaign and it’s important to try to vaccinate the whole population under 20 years.”

Dr Morris said the campaign would continue into 2006. Everyone aged 5-19 years must have their first dose of the MeNZB vaccine by 30 June 2006 and have completed their three doses by 31 December 2006.

The vaccine will continue to be available for under 5s until clinical evidence shows the epidemic has been contained

Newborn babies will continue to receive the vaccination through the immunisation schedule for newborns.

A series of meningococcal B community clinics were offered throughout Otago in December. It is planned to hold a regular weekly clinic in South Dunedin from mid-January onwards and to hold further clinics in Balclutha and Oamaru. A clinic will also be held in Central Otago in early 2006.

A number of GPs throughout Otago are offering the option of drop-in vaccinations, which means a person didn’t need to make an appointment.

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