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Funded Gastroenteritis Vaccine for Babies Nearly Here!

Good News for Babies - Funded Gastroenteritis Vaccine Nearly Here!

Soon babies born in New Zealand will be eligible for funded vaccination against rotavirus gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus infection. PHARMAC has funded ROTATEQ® (rotavirus vaccine, live, oral, pentavalent) and added it to the Immunisation Schedule from July 1st. But parents of young babies should be booking their first vaccination visit now as timing for the three-dose vaccine is very important.

Babies born on or after 19th March 2014 are eligible for the newly funded vaccine but only if the first dose is administered before they are 15 weeks old. The final dose must be given before the baby is 8 months old. Where possible ROTATEQ should be given during the current routine immunisation visits at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months of age.

Merck Sharp & Dohme, NZ Director, Paul Smith, says, “MSD is proud that 15 years of research and development resulted in the availability of this vaccine for New Zealand infants”.

ROTATEQ is an oral vaccine that is squirted into the baby’s mouth. It helps prevent diarrhoea and vomiting caused by rotavirus infection.

As many parents know, diarrhoea and vomiting in infants and young children can lead to dehydration and a trip to the doctor or hospital. What is less well known is that rotavirus infection is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in young children. Almost all children will be infected by rotavirus by five years of age.

Rotavirus is highly contagious and although symptoms vary, those typically associated with rotavirus gastroenteritis include vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and watery diarrhoea, which can last for three to eight days. These symptoms can lead to severe dehydration causing one in every 43 children aged under 5 needing hospital treatment in NZ.

Merck Sharp & Dohme, NZ Director, Paul Smith, adds, “The funding of ROTATEQ is not only great news for our children; but it will also help alleviate the burden on our health care system and on families who have to cope with sick infants. For many parents there is also the concern of time away from work to care for a sick child.”

In one of the largest vaccine trials in history, involving 68,000 infants, RotaTeq reduced the rate of hospitalisations and emergency department visits by 94%, and reduced the number of guardian work days lost by 86%.

ROTATEQ is now available in 100 countries and over 109 million doses have been distributed worldwide. ROTATEQ is used in national programmes in many countries such as Australia, the United States, Austria, Finland, Israel and Belgium.

About MSD
Today's MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD is a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A.

Through our medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer and animal products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programmes and partnerships. For more information, visit: www.msd.co.nz

ENDS

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