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Hodgson welcomes MeNZB effectiveness news

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health


8 August 2006 Media Statement

Hodgson welcomes MeNZB effectiveness news

Evidence released today demonstrating the effectiveness of the MeNZB vaccine confirms that the government's decision to invest in ending the Meningococcal B epidemic was the right one, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

A study conducted by Victoria University has shown that young New Zealanders who are not immunised have a five times higher risk of getting the disease than those who are fully immunised.

Importantly, this evidence puts an end to claims that the decline in Meningococcal B cases since the vaccination programme began has been solely due to the natural progression of the epidemic.

"The Meningococcal B vaccine campaign has been the largest mass immunisation programme in New Zealand's history and one of the boldest steps in the Labour-led government's work for New Zealand families," Pete Hodgson said.

"The decision to invest over $200 million and to ask thousands of health professionals to commit their energy to the campaign was not taken lightly. Today's news validates the contribution so many people have made to protecting the health of a generation of young New Zealanders."

Pete Hodgson said the study also highlights the urgency in making sure all young New Zealanders complete their vaccination courses.

"The uptake of the vaccine has been excellent, but the next few months are the 'make it or break it' stage in our work to end the epidemic. Those aged over 5 have until the end of the year to complete their courses."

Routine vaccination of newborns and under-fives will continue until 2009 as a result of a $22 million investment announced in Budget 2006.

ENDS

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