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Kiwis gain greater access to immunisation

Kiwis gain greater access to immunisation

New Zealanders will gain greater access to new and existing vaccines when the new National Immunisation Schedule takes effect on July 1, 2014.

Details of the extended access to funded vaccines for rotavirus (gastric infection) and varicella (chickenpox) and other vaccines for at-risk groups are included in the Immunisation Handbook 2014 published by the Ministry of Health and launched today in Wellington by Associate Minister of Health, Hon Jo Goodhew.

Medicines New Zealand’s Vaccines Group says the publication of the new Handbook and the new Immunisation Schedule is great news for patients.

“Vaccines are widely recognised as one of the most successful and cost effective health interventions ever introduced. Improved access to vaccines means we can prevent illness in individuals, reduce the spread of illness in the community, and even eradicate some diseases altogether,” says Medicines New Zealand general manager, Kevin Sheehy.

Rotavirus, for example, is a significant illness in New Zealand leads to hundreds of young children being admitted to hospital each year. From July 1, babies under 15 weeks of age will be eligible for funded rotavirus immunisation. The vaccine will be routinely offered at six weeks, three and five months as an oral liquid.

Additional vaccines to be funded for special groups under the new Schedule include: hepatitis A, human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal, pneumococcal, pertussis (Tdap) and varicella.

Another important change to the Schedule is expanding eligibility rules so that children, whose immune systems are weakened, for example by chemotherapy, are able to have further vaccine boosters funded.

“Our member companies have worked hard to provide information for PHARMAC and its expert subcommittees to support the case for expanding access to vaccines. We look forward to bringing new and improved vaccines to the New Zealand market to protect our communities.”

Medicines New Zealand Vaccines Group includes the vaccines branches of bioCSL, GSK, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi pharmaceutical companies.


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