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Pneumococcal Vaccine Free From Sunday

For Release: Friday 30 May 2008

Pneumococcal Vaccine Free From Sunday

Wyeth, makers of the first and only vaccine specifically developed to help protect infants and young children from pneumococcal disease, welcome the introduction of Prevenar (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, 7-valent) on the National Immunisation Schedule this Sunday, June 1.

As part of the new Schedule, infants will receive four doses of Prevenar at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months and 15 months of age. A catch-up program is also available for all babies born from 1 January 2008.

Managing Director, Erica Mann, said Wyeth is delighted families in New Zealand now have universal access to this life-saving vaccine for pneumococcal disease.

"Prevenar is included in more than 20 National Immunisation Programs around the world, including The United Kingdom, The United States, Australia and Canada. It's exciting to see New Zealand join these nations today, following the Government's 2007 decision to protect children from the potentially debilitating affects of this disease," Ms Mann said.

Approximately 150 children under five years of age fall victim to invasive pneumococcal disease every year, with Maori and Pacific Island children most at risk.

Pneumococcal disease can be a very serious and sometimes fatal illness. It can cause meningitis, pneumonia, bacteraemia and otitis media - all of which may cause serious disabilities. Universal vaccination programs around the world have been effective in reducing the disease burden in children under two.

"Recently released data from Australia show that from 2004 to 2006 the rate of invasive pneumococcal disease in non-indigenous children under two years decreased by 77.5% following the introduction of the universal vaccination program from 1 January 2005," Ms Mann said.

"These are powerful results in a relatively short period of time and we hope the vaccine will be equally successful in New Zealand."

Wyeth looks forward to continuing to work with the New Zealand Government to educate and further raise awareness of this important vaccine amongst healthcare professionals and parents.

About Pneumococcal Disease

Pneumococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, and may manifest as a number of illnesses, including meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain), bacteraemia (blood infection), pneumonia (lung infection) and otitis media (middle ear infection).

Pneumococcal disease affects both children and adults and, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a leading cause of death and illness worldwide. WHO estimates that pneumococcal disease results in up to 1 million deaths each year in young children worldwide.

Further, according to WHO, pneumococcal disease is the number one vaccine-preventable cause of death in children less than five years of age worldwide.

About Prevenar (Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, 7 valent)

Prevenar is a prescription medicine. Prevenar is a funded vaccine on the New Zealand Immunisation Schedule from 1 June for children born from 1 January 2008.

Prevenar is indicated for the active immunisation of infants and children from 6 weeks to 9 years of age against invasive disease, pneumonia and otitis media caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium (serotypes 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F).

As with all vaccines, 100% protection cannot be guaranteed. Children should not receive Prevenar if they have ever had an allergic reaction to pneumococcal or diphtheria vaccines, latex, or any other ingredients of the vaccine.

Vaccination should be delayed if the child has a fever or infection requiring a visit to the doctor. The following side effects could occur at the injection site: pain, discomfort, tenderness, a rash, redness, swelling, or a lump. Other side effects that may occur include fever, irritability, drowsiness, restless sleep, decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea. Uncommon side effects include allergic reaction (such as rash, swelling, difficulty breathing), and seizures.

A full copy of the Prevenar Consumer Medicine Information can be found at http://wwwmedsafe.govt.nz/Consumers/cmi/p/prevenar.htm.

A complete overview of the National Immunisation Schedule can be found at
http://www.moh.govt.nz/immunisation


ENDS

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