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Southern DHB Celebrating Immunisation Week

Southern DHB Celebrating Immunisation Week – Are you up-to-date?

Southern District this week is celebrating Immunisation Week (28 April – 2 May) along with the rest of New Zealand and about 180 other countries and territories as part of a World Health Organization initiative.

World Immunisation Week aims to promote one of the world’s most powerful tools for health – the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. The theme for 2014 is “Are you up-to-date?”

During Immunisation Awareness Week Southern DHB will be reminding people of all ages about the about the importance of being immunised against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Immunisation is a vitally important tool to protect New Zealand families and communities. The good news is that immunisation is free for children and by immunising on time, every time we can help protect children from serious illnesses,” commented Southern DHB District Programme Leader, Vaccine Preventable Disease Team, Jillian Boniface.

The DHB’s Immunisation campaigns have been performing well to date, with the District achieving 94% of immunisation coverage amongst eight month olds and two year olds according to the most recent figures. The DHB is delighted with these results, however to maintain this all parents need to keep ensuring their children are immunised on time, according to immunisation schedules.

Description: World Immunisation Day 2014 - Evie 002

Measles is also continuing, mainly in the Auckland region, and parents are being encouraged to protect their children from measles by ensuring they immunise their children “on time, every time.”

Between 16 December 2013 and 23 April 2014, there have been 128 confirmed measles cases reported in New Zealand.

It’s is a serious disease, which remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 122,000 people around the world died from measles in 2012 – mostly children under the age of five. While measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide, it’s still causing problems in parts of the world where vaccination rates are low.

“Measles is only a plane flight away from New Zealand,” says Southern District Health Board Public Health Physician and Medical Officer of Health, Dr Marion Poore.

“It’s highly contagious, and unvaccinated older children, teenagers and young adults are the most affected in the current outbreak.” “The good news,” says Dr Poore, “is that parents can help protect their children by getting them vaccinated free as part of the schedule at age 15 months, and again at 4 years. If they missed out then, it’s also free to catch up.”

“The best thing you can do this week is visit your GP and have your child immunised for the routine childhood immunisations, or have a chat with a health provider if you have questions or concerns.”

“It’s never too late to catch up on immunisations, even if a child has fallen behind on the immunisation schedule.”

If you would like more information contact your family doctor or practise nurse, the local immunisation co-ordinator (Dunedin 03 4769800 or Invercargill 03 2110900), telephone 0800 IMMUNE or visit

Photo caption: 12 year old Evie Connor discussing her “on time” HPV vaccination with Southern DHB Public Health Nurse Marion O’Kane.


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