17 April 2013
The vast majority of New Zealanders have been immunised, get their children immunised and believe in the value of immunisation.
Indeed 96% of parents surveyed for the 2013 Immunisation Health Report - commissioned by Pfizer in partnership with the Meningitis Foundation - had their children vaccinated while 87% had their children fully vaccinated.
Despite this, 17% of parents had not immunised their children on time with some waiting months beyond the recommended due date to get their child’s immunisations.
The Report, launched by the Minister of Health Tony Ryall at a parliamentary reception today, found that while New Zealand’s immunisation rates were on track to achieve the Government’s targets, there was still more work to be done to ensure individuals and the broader community are protected against deadly infectious diseases such as measles, whooping cough and meningitis.
Commenting on the release of the Report, the Meningitis Foundation’s Paul Gilberd said, “The Immunisation Health Report provides parents and healthcare practitioners with information that is relevant to the New Zealand environment. The Meningitis Foundation is pleased to have been involved in the development of this resource and actively encourages all New Zealanders to become more informed about immunisation and talk to their health practitioner”.
“Immunising our kids against serious infectious disease such as meningococcal and pneumococcal meningitis is the best possible protection we can provide for not just our children but our families and community as well,” Mr Gilberd said.
“Unfortunately the Meningitis Foundation has seen firsthand the impact of not vaccinating children against potentially deadly disease. Meningitis can develop at frightening speed leaving victims and parents very little time to seek medical attention. Indeed this often comes too late,” added Mr Gilberd.
Pfizer New Zealand’s Country Manager, Frances Benge, said “As a nation, we can be proud of the enormous commitment we are making to protect the health of our children through immunisation. This Report confirms that more can be done to ensure we comply with age vaccinations, to lift immunisation rates in rural areas and in ensuring parents have access to information about all available vaccines, not just those given via the routine National Immunisation Schedule.”
Key findings of the 2013 Immunisation Health Report:
• 96% of parents surveyed vaccinated their children • 98% of parents who think vaccines are safe, vaccinate their children • Of those parents who fully vaccinated their children, 19% do not adhere, or were unsure they adhered to the age schedule and this rises to 50% among parents who only partially vaccinate • 89% of survey respondents feel well or very well informed about the vaccines available under the National Immunisation Schedule however • 86% of adults want healthcare professionals to inform them of vaccines that provide extra coverage against diseases, even if not funded through the National Immunisation Schedule.
Practising general practitioner at Normans Road Surgery in Christchurch Dr Api Talemaitoga, suggests there may be a perception among some parents that their children will benefit from others in the community being immunised but that it is simply not acceptable to let others do the heavy lifting.
“It is very important to stick to and complete the immunisation schedule,” said Dr Talemaitoga. “Not immunising your child obviously increases the risk of them getting an avoidable infection, and missing a scheduled immunisation also reduces the level of protection that the immunisation can provide.”
Meningitis survivor Tania Wolfgramm is a fierce advocate for immunisation, having experienced the effects of meningitis firsthand. “It is a truly horrific disease, the pain unbearable and the consequences, if you survive, are life-long,” said Tania Wolfgramm.
“I am only grateful that it was me and not my children or any family members that had the disease. I have had my children immunised because, like wearing a seatbelt – there’s no guarantee that someone won’t crash into you – but having a belt on, you have a better chance of survival”.
For further information about The Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand www.meningitis.org.nz
For further information, a copy of the report please contact:
Andrea Brady, Director The Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand