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Day One of Immunisation Registers

MEDIA RELEASE, 26 January 2000

Re Immunisation registers in schools

Health Minister Annette King today visited Newtown School in Wellington to mark the first day immunisation registers take effect in primary schools.

Mrs King said that from now on parents enrolling new entrants in schools would be asked to present an immunisation certificate that shows what vaccines their child has received. Until now immunisation certificates have only been requested in early childcare centres.

"The immunisations registers are a tool which, in the event of an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, will help the school and Medical Officers of Health quickly identify children at risk and take the appropriate action to control the spread of the disease.

"The register will also remind parents to check that their child is up to date with all their immunisations, and, if not, to ensure the immunisations are completed. "

Mrs King said the register was particularly important at this time of year, with children returning to school after the summer holidays.

The number of people who contracted vaccine-preventable diseases depended on the community vaccination coverage, she said. "If people are immunised, it can prevent the development of epidemics in which large numbers of children can be affected, placing severe strain on families and hospitals.

"New Zealand has already been hit with a Pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic which last year affected 839 people, and health experts are warning a measles epidemic could strike any time within the next three years.

"These types of diseases are highly contagious and immunisation is an effective way of protecting the health of your child. It may not give total protection, but immunised children tend to suffer from a milder illness."

Mrs King said immunisation, which was free for children up to the age of 16, could provide protection against nine vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella, polio, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, tetanus, haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), and Hepatitis B.

For further information contact John Harvey (04) 471 9305.

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