Parents urged to return immunisation consent forms
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24 February 2014
 
As schools prepare to begin the three-dose human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme for Year 8 girls on 16 March, parents of intermediate children are urged to return consent forms for this year’s school immunisation programmes.
 
WDHB immunisation coordinator Karen Page says given that around 160 New Zealand women develop cervical cancer each year, and around 50 die from the disease, it’s important that girls receive the HPV vaccination.
 
“Besides protecting women from cervical cancer, the vaccine also gives some protection against other HPV-related cancers and conditions such as vaginal, penile and other genital cancers, anal, mouth and throat cancers, genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) where warts block the trachea (breathing pipe) in babies and some adults,” Ms Page says.
 
“Some treatments for cervical cell changes caused by the HPV virus may also increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage, low-birth weight and prematurity.”
 
Ms Page says the vaccine is most effective when given to young teenage girls and well before they become sexually active. The immune response of young teenagers to the vaccine is better than it is for older women.
 
The Whanganui DHB has good acceptance rates for the HPV vaccine, with 64 percent of girls completing three doses compared to the 58 percent who do so nationally.
 
Parents can view informational videos at www.health.govt.nz/hpv or www.health.govt.nz/immunisation for the Boostrix video. Further information is also available by phoning 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466863) or 3483260.
 
In the meantime, Boostrix vaccinations for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Whooping Cough) for Year 7 boys and girls, begin on 4 May.
 
As the names suggests, the Boostrix vaccination gives booster doses for the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccinations given to babies and four-year-olds. Ms Page says while diphtheria and tetanus cases are rare in New Zealand, five to 10 percent of people with diphtheria do die of the disease, which can also lead to paralysis and heart failure.
 
Ten percent of those infected with tetanus will also die. Pertussis is more common. New Zealand is coming to the end of a pertussis epidemic which has seen around 9000 people hospitalised with the disease since 2011. It can infect all ages including babies who usually catch it from someone in the household. The Boostrix vaccine is free to pregnant women.