Immunisation Week: Protecting our families and communities by getting immunised
Immunisation Week (29th April to 5th May 2019) is about raising awareness about the importance of immunisation to protect against serious illnesses. ‘Protected together’ is the theme for this year’s Immunisation Week. The theme highlights the way that high immunisation rates work to protect those who are too young or sick to be immunised themselves, as well as the way health professionals and families work together to protect our community.
Disease outbreaks can have serious consequences for families and communities. Those who are not immunised – whether that’s by choice or other circumstances – are worst affected by these outbreaks. Outbreaks in schools or early childhood centres can mean weeks of disruption for families as unimmunised children can be excluded from pre school or school.
Here are the key messages this Immunisation Week:
- High immunisation rates protect our whole community from the spread of serious diseases.
- Protecting your child from serious diseases means you’re also protecting the people around them – including those who can’t be immunised themselves.
- Make sure your whole family – young and old – is up-to-date with their immunisations. See the .
- Immunisation is one of the best ways to protect your whanau against the risk of serious diseases.
- Immunisation coverage of 95 percent is needed to help shield the population from serious diseases, like measles. We all need to work together to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
- New Zealand’s midwives, nurses, doctors and pharmacists all play an important role in making sure our whole community is immunised.
Find out more about staying protected from serious illnesses through immunisation (Ministry of Health).
Catch up on your vaccinations: protect yourself now and in the future
It’s important to check you are up to date with your immunisations, especially if you are;
- leaving home for the first time – such as going to university or other tertiary education provider;
- thinking of starting a family;
- beginning a career; or
- travelling overseas.
Catching up on your immunisations is easy, and often free from your general practice. Your practice nurse or doctor will be able to tell you what immunisations you need.
Many diseases like measles and tetanus can make adults seriously ill. Over 400,000 Kiwis between 10 and 29 years old are at risk of catching measles in an outbreak. You need two doses of measles vaccine to be best protected.
You can also protect your developing child if you are fully immunised. Catching rubella when you’re pregnant can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects. It is also recommended that pregnant women have the free seasonal influenza and whooping cough booster vaccinations to protect both them and their child.
Most people will be exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV) as older teenagers or young adults. Persistent HPV infection can lead to cervical and other HPV-related cancers. HPV also causes most genital warts.
There are some extra immunisations that aren’t usually free but are worth considering to make sure you’re protected. Some of these are free for those at higher risk of disease. Talk to your doctor about whether protection from the following diseases is a good idea for you:
- Meningococcal disease;
- Hepatitis A; or
- Hepatitis B.
Older people need to keep their immunisations up to date too
Diseases like influenza and shingles can have a bigger impact on our health as we get older due to the risk of complications. Also you can protect your grandchildren/moko from serious diseases by getting your immunisations up-to-date.
Your general practice can provide FREE immunisations to help keep you well:
- Get FREE booster immunisations to protect you against diphtheria and tetanus.
- FREE immunisation against shingles is available at age 65, and for those aged 66 to 80 years for a limited time.
- FREE immunisation against influenza is available for those aged 65 and older.
Sources: Health Promotion Agency and Ministry of Health websites.Published on Monday, March 11th, 2019, under Events