Final 7 Days for FREE Meningococcal C Vaccination

Press Release – Northland DHB

The Meningococcal C Vaccination Programme enters its final week, more than 30,000 children and youth across Northland have been vaccinated against this serious disease.
Media Release

9 December 2011

Final 7 Days for FREE Meningococcal C Vaccination Programme

The Meningococcal C Vaccination Programme enters its final week, more than 30,000 children and youth across Northland have been vaccinated against this serious disease.

With a target of 85% now within reach, Northland DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Clair Mills is appealing to those not yet vaccinated to act now, as Friday 16 December is the final day of the FREE vaccination programme.

“This vaccine is not cheap, if you have not been vaccinated by Friday, you will be expected to pay for it. This is a serious disease and we are offering the vaccination at for free, please don’t wait, you can go to your GP or one of our community clinics” she said.

Health workers across the region have worked together to ensure all Northlanders aged 12months to under 20years take advantage of the free programme, established following a community outbreak of Meningococcal C, including three deaths.

“Everyone has worked really hard throughout the programme and I thank them all for their efforts. We have just one more week to go, one final push before we are no longer able to provide this vaccination for free” Dr Mills added.

The Northland DHB toll-free phone number is still available, 24hours a day if anyone has questions about meningococcal disease or the vaccination. This number is 0800 430 123.

The free Vaccination is available until Friday 16 December – after which you will have to pay for the vaccination.
MeNZB vaccination will not provide protection from Meningococcal C – This is a completely different vaccine and the two bugs are different.
If you want to know more about the vaccine or have any other concerns or questions, contact your GP or 0800 430 123.

About the Programme
The immunisation programme was launched following a community outbreak of meningococcal C disease in the district. In consultation with the Ministry of Health, the District Health Board undertook the vaccination campaign to help control this outbreak and prevent more cases of disease.

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium (germ) Neisseria meningitidis. It can cause meningitis (infection of the membrane around the brain) or septicaemia (blood poisoning). It is a serious disease and can cause death or permanent disability, such as deafness.

The meningococcal C vaccine being used (Meningitec ®) has a very good safety record and has been widely used in Europe, UK and Australia since 1999. The vaccine does not contain live bacteria and it is not possible to get the disease from the vaccine. Only one dose is required to give protection in children over 12 months of age.

Meningococcal comes in different types such as B and C and the vaccine being offered to Northlanders is for meningococcal C disease. The vaccine provides protection after about 10 days. It is 90-95 per cent effective.

This vaccine is different from the MeNZB vaccine given in 2004-5 to control the Type B epidemic. MeNZB only protected against Type B and does not protect against Type C.

Dr Mills says meningococcal disease can be difficult to diagnose and anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention without delay, as early treatment is very important.
“If, despite earlier treatment, your condition deteriorates, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention again.”

If members of the public are concerned about meningococcal disease, or about the vaccination programme, they can talk to a public health nurse on the NDHB 0800 meningococcal information phone line – 0800 430 123.

This number is a Northland specific toll-free meningococcal line which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People can also get advice from Healthline (0800 611 116).
For more information on meningococcal disease, see:

• Ministry of Health http://www.moh.govt.nz/meningococcal.
• Immunisation Advisory Centre http://www.immune.org.nz/?T=665
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For more information contact:

Paula Martin, Communications Officer
Northland District Health Board
Phone: 09-470 0000 ext 3321


NORTHLAND DHB MENINGOCOCCAL SPECIFIC CASE INFORMATION

July Notification – Confirmed

10 Jul 2011 – 18 year old female – Meningococcal C
22 Jul 2011 – 18 year old male – Meningococcal C

August Notification- Confirmed
9 Aug 2011 – 1 year old male – Meningococcal C Death
11 Aug 2011 – 1 year old male – Meningococcal C
24 Aug 2011 – 45 year old female – Meningococcal B
25 Aug 2011 – 18 year old male – Meningococcal C Death

September Notification- Confirmed
04 Sept 2011 – 14 month old male – Meningococcal B
22 Sept 2011 – 15 year old male – Meningococcal C
22 Sept 2011 – 82 year old female – Meningococcal C Death

October Notification- Confirmed
07 Oct 2011 – 5 year old child – Meningococcal C
09 Oct 2011 – 2 year old girl – Meningococcal B
19 Oct 2011 – 12 year old girl – Meningococcal C

November Notification- Confirmed
15 Nov 2011 – 4 year old child – Meningococcal B


MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE BACKGROUND INFORMATION
(Ref IMAC http://www.immune.org.nz/?T=665)
What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection. It causes severe illnesses most commonly presenting as meningitis (an infection of membranes that cover the brain) and bacteraemia (blood infection), and less commonly pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the sac that contains the heart) and arthritis (swelling of the joints).
The most common strains of bacteria which cause meningococcal disease in New Zealand are Type B and C.

What are the symptoms of Meningococcal disease?
In the early stages meningococcal disease may look like influenza. It can progress quickly and can be difficult to diagnose. It is important to remember that not everyone will develop all the symptoms listed and they may appear in a different order. If an individual develops some of the symptoms listed, especially red or purple spots, get medical help urgently. If you can’t get in touch with the doctor, or are still worried after getting advice, trust your instincts and go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.
In babies, the main symptoms of meningitis may include:
a high-pitched, moaning cry
irritable when picked up
a bulging fontanelle
drowsy and less responsive – difficult to wake
floppy and listless, or stiff with jerky movements
refusing feeds, vomiting
skin that is pale, blotchy or turning blue
fever
In babies, the main symptoms of bacteraemia may include:
rapid or unusual patterns of breathing
skin that is pale, blotchy or turning blue
fever with cold hands and feet
shivering
vomiting, refusing feeds
red or purple spots
pain or irritability from muscle aches or severe limb/joint pain
floppiness
severe sleepiness.

In older children, adolescents and adults, the main symptoms of meningitis may include:
a stiff neck (check that they can kiss their knees or touch their forehead with their knees)
a very bad headache
dislike of bright lights
vomiting
fever
feeling drowsy, less responsive and confused
a rash

In older children, adolescents and adults, the main symptoms of bacteraemia may include:
sleepiness, less responsive, vacant or confused
severe aches and pains in the arms, legs and joints
very cold hands and feet
shivering
rapid breathing
red or purple spots
vomiting
fever
diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

For further information about meningococcal disease visit the Ministry of Health website http://www.moh.govt.nz/meningococcal.

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