Parents urged to get behind school vaccinations

14 February 2014
Parents of intermediate school age children are urged to return consent forms for their children’s 2014 vaccination programme.
The three-step human papillomaviris (HPV) vaccination programme for Year 8 girls begins in March. Boostrix vaccinations for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Whooping Cough) for Year 7 boys and girls, begin in June.

Public Health, Community and Rural Services clinical nurse manager Itayi Mapanda says considering that 150 to 160 New Zealand women develop cervical cancer each year and around 50 of those die from the condition, it’s very important that Year 8 girls do receive their HPV vaccination.

Besides protecting women against cervical cancer (which in 99 percent of cases is caused HPV infection), the vaccine also helps to protect against less common cancers, such as vaginal and other genital cancers and, some mouth and throat cancers caused by HPV infection.

In the meantime, there’s good reason why parents need to give their consent for their children to receive the Boostrix vaccinations:
  • More than 8,000 cases of whooping cough were notified since the most recent outbreak of the disease began in August 2011
  • Whooping cough affects all age groups, but is especially severe for infants and young children
  • Tetanus and diphtheria are rare in New Zealand, but the infections are dangerous, and immunisation will prevent future cases.

Mrs Mapanda says on a positive note, of the 854 Whanganui children who were eligible for Boostrix vaccinations last year, only 65 failed to return their consent forms “which those of us working in the health sector consider a good response rate”.
“And at the end of the three rounds of Whanganui’s 2013 HPV vaccinations programme, 81 percent of our Year 8 Māori girls and 61 percent of all other ethnicities were vaccinated which compared well with 59 percent Māori girls and 53 all other ethnicities nationally,” says Mrs Mapanda
Mrs Mapanda says Whanganui health workers are proud of the district’s vaccination results and rightly so.
“It’s a real feather in the caps of WDHB immunisation coordinator Karen Howard and our public health nurses who drive these campaigns in our schools,” she says.