This week, National Immunization Week saw events held in Kaitaia, Dargaville and Whangarei. The Awareness Week is part of a WHO vaccination initiative that covers the Western Pacific region. In the past, Northland had received bad press for its sub-standard immunization records that caused an outbreak of measles in 2010 which spread nationally and internationally. The vaccination coverage for children 2 years and below has since then been raised to 80%, but is still below the ideal coverage rate of 95%.
"Children who have not been immunized are more likely to catch the disease and pass it on to others, so I am also urging parents to not only vaccinate - but to vaccinate their child on time, every time", said Dr. Clair Mills, the DHB’s local medical officer. The official further said that immunization had the power to practically wipe out diseases, as cases like polio, diphtheria, meningitis and hepatitis B have shown in the past, but that a good immunization coverage had to be guaranteed to achieve those results.
Still, many children are admitted to hospitals with conditions like whooping cough, a condition that could easily be prevented by a simple vaccination. Especially for very young children, these diseases can have serious implications.
Mills urged parents to talk to their GP about the free and safe immunizations in order to give their children a healthy start in life.