Immunisation Week good time to make sure your family is immunised
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17 April 2015
 
Is your family up-to-date with the immunisations that keep them, and the wider community, safe? World Immunisation Week (April 20-24) is the perfect opportunity to think about why immunisations are so important for the health of our communities says Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) immunisation coordinator Karen Page.
 
And Ms Page and Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) immunisation coordinator Sue Hina say they can’t stress enough how important it is for children to complete their full course of vaccines to protect them against preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough.
 
“Making sure your children get the immunisations they need, and at the time they need them, is the best way to protect them from serious illnesses,” says Ms Page. “To fully protect a child from preventable diseases, they must be vaccinated at six weeks, three months, five months, 15 months and at the ages of 4, 11 and 12.

“We are lucky to have vigilant general practice nurses, supported by the Whanganui Regional Health Network who continue to provide a great immunisation service to help protect all of us in the Whanganui region.”

The WDHB fully supports the push to focus this year’s seasonal influenza immunisation programme towards pregnant women and their newborn babies. Healthy, pregnant women are up to 18 times more likely to be admitted to hospital when suffering from influenza than non-pregnant women. The influenza vaccine can be given at any time during a woman’s pregnancy - there are no safety concerns around this.

Families can have their children vaccinated free of charge at:
  • their local doctor’s practice
  • the weekly clinic (Tuesdays, 9am-5pm) at WRHN’s Heads Road offices
  • the monthly clinic (first Monday each month, 5pm-7pm) at Whanganui Accident & Medical clinic.
Meanwhile, influenza immunisation is free from primary health care practice nurses for New Zealanders at high risk of complications – pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, and anyone under 65 years of age, including children six months and older, with long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease (including asthma), kidney disease and most cancers. For further information go to www.fightflu.co.nz, www.health.govt.nz/influenza, www.immune.org.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863.

Regrettably, 28 Whanganui children who reached eight-months-old in the quarter ending 31 March this year, did not have up-to-date immunisations. Whanganui Regional Health Network immunisation coordinator Sue Hina says the parents of 12 of these children who are not anti-vaccination, are being supported to get their child’s immunisations up to date. The parents of the remaining 16 children chose to decline immunisation.
 
“While there are always a small number who fall into these two groups, it is frustrating to see our immunisation rate for Whanganui’s eight-month-old children fall from 96 percent to 86 percent in the last quarter due to an increase in decliners and families not completing their immunisations on time,” Mrs Hina says. “Anyone wishing to contact me about their children’s immunisations is welcome to call 0800 775 001.”