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Have we missed the MeNZB™ point?

Statement from Dr Nikki Turner, Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC)

Date: 26 October, 2006

Have we missed the MeNZB™ point?

We are now reaping the rewards of an incredibly successful public health programme, having gone from 200 cases of meningococcal disease per year to less than 40.

Despite the odds, over 3 million doses of vaccine have been given. That is a huge success by any measure, especially in terms of health care savings in hospitals and more importantly, the lives of New Zealand families.

New Zealand has developed a world class safety monitoring system. It is so comprehensive we can say with confidence that the MeNZBTM vaccine has an excellent safety profile.

The fact we can report any reactions following the vaccine, whether linked or not, with such precision, should reassure rather than remove confidence in the programme.

The nay-sayers will always be with us – fortunately for parents, robust scientific data confirms the vaccine works and is offering large amounts of protection for children from this nasty disease.

Facts about the safety monitoring of MeNZB™:

New Zealand built a world class vaccine safety monitoring programme to detect any safety issues. This was launched in addition to a large body of international research evidence establishing the safety and efficacy of these types of vaccines.

During the first stage of the immunisation programme, hospital-based monitoring for adverse events following immunisation operated at Middlemore and Auckland City hospitals. Monitoring occurred for over 200,000 children.

For all children and young people aged from four weeks to 20 years, all admissions and emergency department (ED) consultations at Middlemore Hospital, and all admissions at Auckland City Hospital were reviewed each day to detect a number of pre-selected conditions. These conditions included serious neurological illnesses such as encephalopathy and acute flaccid paralysis, serious allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis and less serious presentations such as febrile seizures. A check was made to establish if any of the individuals had received the MeNZBTM vaccine.

The Centre of Adverse Reaction Monitoring (CARM) at Otago University also operated an additional intensive vaccine monitoring programme (IVMP) with general practices during the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme. The IVMP monitored a cohort of children aged 6 weeks to four years attending general practice.

CARM continues to monitor any reports of adverse events by passive reports from all vaccinations nation wide.

All this data collection is peer reviewed and analysed by an expert international monitoring board who have consistently reported that they have confidence in the vaccine.

ENDS

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