Preventing 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).
Be a Guardian of the Future: Get a free measles immunisation
People aged between 15 and 30 who haven’t had their MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine are urged to get a free immunisation now – even if they’re not sure.
More than 2,000 Kiwis got sick from measles in 2019 and more than 700 needed hospital treatment.
“The 2019 measles outbreak and the current COVID-19 pandemic have shown the impact infectious diseases can have when we are not immune,” says Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Ramon Pink. “Now is the time to catch up on the vaccinations we have easy access to such as MMR, to protect our community and whānau in the future.”
People born between 1990 and 2005 are most at risk of catching measles – since many didn’t have their scheduled childhood MMR vaccinations. So you are more likely to catch measles and also spread it to others. This is why there is now a national catch-up programme focusing on improving your immunity.
“Measles is more than eight times more infectious than COVID-19. It can make you very sick and affect your health for the rest of your life. Getting a catch-up dose now will make sure you and those around you are protected in the future,” says Dr Pink.
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
PHARMAC widening access to the meningococcal ACWY vaccine
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine will be available free until 30th November 2021 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.
“It’s great when we can make a vaccine available to more people. Teenagers and young adults living in close living situations are one of the highest risk populations, which is why we’ve targeted this group” says PHARMAC’s deputy medical director Dr Pete Murray.
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.
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.