It’s Immunisation Week and Southern District Health Board is encouraging everyone to ensure their whole family is up to date with immunisations.
“The theme of Immunisation week this year is ‘Protected Together, #immunise’ and this highlights that high immunisation coverage protects those who are too young or sick to be immunised, as well encouraging health professionals and families to work together to protect our community,” says Southern DHB Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Jillian Boniface.
Southern DHB Public Health Nurse Stacey Ellis is mum to four children and can’t emphasise enough how important it is to ensure that all vaccinations are up to date. She says it’s not just important to protect yourself but also important to protect others too.
Stacey’s son had viral meningitis when he was four weeks old which left him with a low immune system in his first year.
“It was really important the whole family was immunised to protect him as he was so vulnerable and too young and too sick to be immunised.
“Because he was so susceptible to becoming unwell in his first year of life, being up to date with all of our children’s immunisations was very important to make sure they didn’t get sick and pass it on to him,” says Stacey.
“High immunisation coverage is important to protect not only the health of children but to protect the community as well. Disease outbreaks can have serious consequences for families and communities,” says Dr Susan Jack, Medical Officer of Health.
“The recent measles outbreaks in several other regions of New Zealand highlights what happens if individuals aren’t immunised, or don’t keep their immunisations up to date. Those who are not immunised, whether by choice or other circumstances, are worst affected by these outbreaks. Measles is highly contagious – but yet easily preventable with a vaccination.”
Some teenagers and young adults may have missed one or both recommended doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or other childhood immunisations. Outbreaks can mean weeks of disruption for communities and families if individuals get sick or unimmunised children may be excluded from school.
“We need to increase and maintain our immunisation coverage, and for our communities to ensure that they get their immunisations on time, every time to prevent the spread of diseases that cause these preventable illnesses,” says Dr Jack.
“Many people will have their immunisations recorded in their Well Child Book, or check with your family doctor next time you visit to make sure you are up to date.”
Immunisation can protect people against harmful infections, which can cause serious complications, including death. It is one of the most effective, and cost effective medical interventions to prevent disease.
High immunisation rates work to protect those who are too young or sick to immunise themselves
For more information on immunisation go to: www.immune.org.nz, www.health.govt.nz/immunisation or phone 0800 IMMUNE (466 863)
For more information, specifically about immunisation for older children, visit: www.health.govt.nz/imms-older-children
Immunisation Week runs from 29 April to 5 May 2019.
Photo Caption: Stacey and her family