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Last Month for Meningococcal B Immunisation

Last Month for Meningococcal B Immunisation

Families have only one month to complete their Meningococcal B vaccinations.

That is the urgent message from district health staff as they prepare to wind up the biggest vaccination programme New Zealand has even seen.

Tairawhiti District Health Meningococcal B Vaccine Coordinator Heather Robertson said the Meningococcal B immunisation campaign was a mass rapid response to a disease with devastating effects. The campaign ends on 30 June 2006.

“Everyone should have all three meningococcal B vaccine doses by 30 June 2006.”

Everyone aged between six weeks and 19 years is eligible for the free vaccination.

Ms Roberston is concerned that 380 pre-schoolers are showing up on health records as having had only one or two of the three doses of the vaccine they need.

“To be fully immunised a person needs to have three doses and then it can take 28 days after the third dose for immunity to fully develop. We are urging mums, dads and caregivers out there who think they fall into this category to quickly contact their doctor and make an appointment for their youngsters to have the final doses.

“These families made a wonderful initial effort to ensure their children started their immunisations. We ask they continue with their intent and ensure their children are safe.”

“Mass vaccination offers the best prospect of controlling the epidemic by raising the immunity of the most affected groups in the population. Because close to 80% of cases were in under 20 year olds - this is why the programme targeted this age group.”

Figures show 10,525 Tairawhiti children and teens aged between 5 and 17 were eligible for the free vaccine which has been available in the district since February 2005. By May this year 90 percent had received their three doses.

“People in this age group who have not finished their vaccinations are urged to complete them before June 30.”

"We are seeing evidence that the vaccine is providing good protection to those who are fully vaccinated.

Ms Robertson said the vaccine uptake for 18 to 19 year olds was low with only 48.2 percent or 566 out of 1175 people receiving their third dose.

“You have only one month left to complete your vaccinations. If you left school part way through your vaccinations then get in touch with your local doctor to receive your second and/or third dose. There is no charge.”

“Those who are not vaccinated remain at risk of the epidemic strain of the disease. Therefore it is critically important for everyone aged from six weeks to 19 years to complete the three doses."

Ms Roberston said because of the need for a six week gap between MeNZB doses, special arrangements can be made for anyone unable to complete their vaccinations before June 30. However this is a limited service and she encourages everyone to make use of the regular programme before it ends on June 30.

Ms Roberston reminded parents in the district that the Meningococcal B vaccine has now been added to the national schedule of immunizations for babies. A 4th dose of the MeNZB vaccine is available for all babies who received their 1st dose before they were six months old.

Ends

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