Whanganui health sector celebrates Immunisation Week 23 to 29 April
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A poster competition for primary and intermediate school pupils and a colouring competition for kindergarten pupils is how the Whanganui district will mark Immunisation Week from 23 April.
 
Whanganui immunisation coordinators Karen Howard and Sue Hina say having seen how responsive kindergarten children were to last year’s colouring competition, older children are now being encouraged to produce posters and talk about why immunisation is so important.
 
Competition winners will receive vouchers from The Warehouse and will be interviewed by the Midweek or their local community paper - depending on where they live. And kindy children whose coloured Super Hero pictures are considered the best will receive prizes for their efforts and have their pictures displayed in Trafalgar Square.
 
Fun aside, the purpose of Immunisation Week is to raise awareness about immunisation and to encourage as many parents as possible to not only have their children immunised but to make sure they do so in a timely manner.
 
Driven by the World Health Organisation, World Immunisation Week was launched last year to wide support from all 20 of New Zealand’s district health boards.
 
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) and Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation (WRPHO) have now joined forces for the second year in a row to ensure the message reaches as many children and adults as possible across the district.
 
Ms Howard and Ms Hina consider Immunisation Week a wonderful opportunity for people to reflect on why immunisation is so important and the impact it’s had on the world. “There’s absolutely no doubt that it’s the best insurance against the spread of disease and that it has saved many lives,” Ms Howard says.
 
“Some diseases have been eradicated altogether – smallpox being a good case in point. And our Pacific region has been certified polio free since 2000.”
 
Ms Hina says to protect our communities from outbreaks of disease, the Ministry of Health has clearly stated it wants DHBs to achieve a 95 percent immunisation rate at age two years by July 2012 to provide individual and community protection against preventable diseases.
 
To fully protect a child from preventable disease, they must be vaccinated at six weeks, three months, five months, 15 months and at age 4, 11 and 12. It’s a commitment well worth making. Children grow up and thank their parents for ensuring they didn’t catch preventable diseases.”
 
Families can have their children vaccinated at their local GP practice or at the WRPHO’s free childhood immunisation drop-in clinic at the Gonville Health practice in Abbot Street on Wednesdays from 9am to 1pm.