Prevention of infectious diseases through immunisation
Community and Public Health is committed to encouraging immunisation amongst New Zealanders. Our main focuses are promoting the benefits of vaccination programmes and certifying the vaccinators who provide this valuable service.
Some Reasons Why Vaccination is Important
Community and Public Health is an advocate for vaccination programmes because immunisation uses the body’s immune system to build resistance to serious diseases.
An immunised individual helps protect vulnerable people in the community by decreasing the possibility of a disease spreading. These vulnerable people are infants, the elderly and those with impaired immune systems. This protective effect only occurs if enough people are vaccinated and is called ‘herd immunity’.
New Zealand has a low child immunisation rate compared with other countries. This results in regular outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The Ministry of Health’s target is that 95 percent of infants will have completed their primary course of immunisation on time (at six weeks, three months and five months of age).
PHARMAC widening access to the meningococcal ACWY vaccine
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine will be available free until December 2020 for young people aged 13 to 25 who live in close living situations – boarding school hostels, tertiary education halls of residence, military barracks and prisons. Contact your general practice to have this free vaccination.
“We know that reducing the spread of meningococcal disease is important to New Zealanders and it’s important to us too. It’s great when we can make a vaccine available to more people,” says PHARMAC’s deputy medical director Dr Pete Murray,
“Our clinical experts told us that teenagers and young adults living in close living situations are one of the highest risk populations, which is why we’ve targeted this group.”
The bacterium that causes meningitis is generally carried by people aged 13 to 25 years. Carriers can infect those around them even if they have no symptoms. Vaccinating this age group would protect young people, decrease the number of carriers, and help reduce the spread of meningococcal disease in this at-risk population.
Applications for the meningococcal vaccine to be funded for other groups of people are still being considered, as is the funding of meningococcal B vaccine.
Contact the Communicable Disease staff at your local office for further information:
Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6484
Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091
Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169
For questions on immunisation and vaccination-preventable diseases, call:
9am – 4.30pm weekdays
Get your child immunised against chickenpox on time
Every year in New Zealand about 60,000 people catch chickenpox. Several hundred people need hospital treatment, and one or two people either die or suffer from long-term disability as a result.
- The severity and risk of complications from chickenpox is greater for adults. Complications can include severe skin infection, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain, kidney problems and sometimes death.
- Pregnant women and their babies are at greater risk of harm from chickenpox. Chickenpox is also dangerous for people whose immune systems are weak, and people with liver or kidney problems.
All children are eligible for one free dose of the chickenpox vaccine when they turn 15 months. One dose of the vaccine will protect around four out of five people from any kind of chickenpox and almost everyone from severe chickenpox.
Some people who have been vaccinated may still get chickenpox, but they will have a milder illness. Vaccination provides long term but probably not lifelong immunity to chickenpox.
Chickenpox can lead to shingles many decades after the initial disease.
Year 7 and 8 Immunisation Videos
Both boys and girls are offered free immunisations at around age 11 against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis), and at around age 12 against human papillomavirus (HPV).
These immunisations are provided by general practices in Canterbury. Other parts of the South Island provide Year 7 immunisation through general practice and Year 8 at school.