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Changes to the National Immunisation Schedule

31 January 2006

Changes to the National Immunisation Schedule

From 1 February 2006 changes to the National Immunisation Schedule (the Schedule) take effect.

The Ministry of Heath's Manager of Immunisation Policy, Dr Alison Roberts, says Haemophilus influenzaetype b (Hib) vaccine, will replace the diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis and Hib (DTaP/Hib) vaccine, currently offered to children at 15 months of age with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

"A dose of whooping cough, or pertussis vaccine, at 11 years of age has also been added to the Schedule as part of the combined adult diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis and inactivated polio (dTap-IPV) vaccine. This will be administered as one injection and help protect adolescents against whooping cough," Dr Roberts says.

Other changes to the Immunisation Schedule from 1 February include the introduction of a publicly funded Pneumococcal Immunisation Programme for children at high risk of pneumococcal diseases which include brain, ear, lung and blood infections caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.

"In addition children and adults who have a splenectomy operation to remove the spleen will be able to receive the publicly funded Pneumoccocal, Hib and Meningococcal vaccines to help limit their risk of infection," Dr Roberts says.

The National Immunisation Programme aims to reduce vaccine-preventable diseases and immunisation is one of the most cost effective means of preventing disease and improving the health of New Zealanders.

Dr Roberts says to assist immunisation coverage and disease prevention, the Immunisation Schedule is reviewed, but not necessarily changed, every two years to enable people to receive safe and more effective vaccines as they become available.

The Immunisation Schedule was last updated in 2002.

Further information about immunisation, the immunisation schedule, and the immunisation handbook are available through the Ministry of Health website:

http://www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation

http://www.moh.govt.nz/publications/immunisationhandbook2002

ENDS

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