Parents and caregivers are being urged to be on time, every time with infant immunisations for the best protection against serious, preventable diseases.
Babies should receive scheduled immunisations at age six-weeks, three-months and five-months, vaccinating against a raft of serious diseases including Rotavirus, Pneumococcal, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Polio and Hepatitis B.
Rotavirus is the latest immunisation to be added to the schedule in July this year – a highly contagious virus causing bowel infection, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and in severe cases dehydration resulting in hospitalisation. In New Zealand rotavirus infection results in one child in 52 being hospitalised by three years of age and one child in 43 being hospitalised by five years of age. (external link)
Without immunisation almost all children will get a rotavirus infection before they start school.
Vaccination is the most effective means to protect your child and the wider community against rotavirus, says Starship Child Health’s Community Paediatrician, Dr Alison Leversha.
“Rotavirus is a very distressing condition for the child and parents – and one that can easily be prevented.”
“The first dose of the oral rotavirus vaccine must be administered before baby is 15-weeks-old and we encourage families to contact their general practice as early as possible to ensure they receive the immunisation, along with the other scheduled vaccines, on time.
“Aside from the benefit of protecting your own child, vaccination protects the wider community including a small but vulnerable group of children with compromised immune systems who cannot be immunised.
Currently 97 per cent of six week olds living in the Auckland DHB area have received their first round of immunisations. More than 33 babies in the region are however overdue. Additionally there are another 11 three-month-olds and 34 five-month-olds that are also overdue and require second doses for long-term protection.
Dr Leversha says if you’re unsure whether your child has received all their infant immunisations, contact your GP.
“Our message to parents and caregivers is don’t delay to give your child the best possible protection – vaccines on the national immunisation schedule are free from your family doctor.
“Delaying your child’s vaccination is risky. Most babies admitted to hospital with severe complications of vaccine preventable diseases, have not had their vaccines on time.”
Parents and caregivers can seek more information on scheduled vaccinations from their GP or practice nurse, by phoning the Immunisation Advisory Centre information line 0800 IMMUNE (466863) or by visiting the Immunisation Advisory Centre website(external link).
Photo Caption: Immunisation co-ordinator and vaccination nurse, Marion Howie, talks through the vaccination schedule for baby Adriana Ji with mum, Peggy Jin (right) and grandmother, Lin Li.
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