Immunisation Week: Protected to live healthier and happier lives

World Immunisation Week (24th to 30th April 2024) is about celebrating the importance of immunisation – allowing children, adults, whānau and communities to live happier, healthier lives.

Being immunised is one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves, our whānau and our communities from a range of preventable diseases that can cause serious illness and even death.

The risk of severe illness this winter is high. So Health New Zealand encourages everyone across the motu to be protected.

It’s also a good opportunity to make sure your whole family – both young and old – is up-to-date with their immunisations.

Immunisation coverage of 95 percent is needed to help shield the population from serious diseases, like measles. Currently 81 percent of all children are fully immunised at 24 months of age. 66 percent of all tamariki Māori and 81 percent of all Pacific children are fully immunised at 24 months.

We all need to work together to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Protecting yourself and your whānau against vaccine-preventable diseases means you’re also protecting the people around them – including those who can’t be immunised themselves.

Here are the important messages this World Immunisation Week:

  • Immunisation saves lives. Immunisation stops people from passing diseases to their whānau, particularly to those who may not have strong immune systems.
  • We desperately need higher rates of immunisation to help stop adults and tamariki from getting really sick and having to go to hospital this winter.
  • Vaccines on the National Immunisation Schedule are free for all tamariki under 18 in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Flu vaccines are available for everyone over 6 months old – and FREE for many people. Almost 2 million people are eligible to get free vaccines.
  • The updated COVID-19 vaccine booster is now available FREE for everyone over 30 years, pregnant people and those over 12 years at higher risk of severe illness.

World Immunisation Week is also an opportunity to recognise those people who have already been immunised and acknowledge those who helped make this happen – midwives, nurses, doctors and pharmacists who give the vaccines.

Catch up on your vaccinations: Protect yourself now and in the future

Immunisation is the best way to protect yourself and your whānau against a range of infectious diseases and remains a priority for whānau.

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.

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:

  • Influenza;
  • Meningococcal disease;
  • Chickenpox;
  • 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 and mokopuna 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 at age 65 to protect you against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
  • FREE immunisation against shingles is available at age 65. People aged 66 to 80 years are eligible for a free vaccine until 31st December 2021.
  • FREE immunisation against influenza is available for those aged 65 and older.

Sources: Health NZ website.

Published on Friday, April 5th, 2024, under Uncategorised
Page last updated: 02/05/2024

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