Jabs for children on offer

Tetanus shots, whooping cough vaccines and HPV immunisations are on the cards for some Taranaki children next month.

Over the next few weeks Taranaki parents will be asked to give consent for their children to receive free Boostrix and HPV vaccinations through their child’s school or GP.

The Taranaki District Health Board said Year 7 and 8 children will be offered immunisations to help protect them against serious diseases like tetanus, whooping cough and most HPV cancers.

Taranaki DHB’s medical officer of health Dr Jonathan Jarman said Boostrix immunisations at around age 11 protected against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.

“It boosts the protection children received as babies against these diseases,” he said.

“Following the full course of immunisations, protection is expected to last at least 20 years against tetanus and five years against whooping cough. The vaccine is given as one injection.”

HPV immunisations at around age 12 for both boys and girls protect against nine strains of human papillomavirus responsible for cervical and some other cancers, as well as genital warts.

In New Zealand approximately 160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 50 women die from it each year. The HPV immunisation has been available to girls to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer since 2008, but was extended to boys and young men from January 2017.

Dr Jarman said the vaccine provided long-lasting protection, into adulthood.

“The HPV vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect against an increasing proportion of mouth and throat cancers caused by HPV, which affect men at higher rates than women. HPV can also cause penile and anal cancers in men.

“The HPV vaccine is given as two injections, spaced out over at least six months, to those aged 14 or under. Those beginning vaccination at age 15 or older will need three doses.”

Public Health Nurse’s are currently visiting participating schools and giving children consent forms to take home for their parents to sign for each vaccine. Parents need to fill out the forms and say whether or not they consent to the vaccine, sign the form and return it to school.

Dr Jarman said it was important that parents had the best possible information to make the right decisions.

“There is a lot of social media content regarding Boostrix and HPV, which some parents may find confusing,” he said.

“So I urge parents with queries about the vaccine to discuss them with a qualified doctor or nurse. The Ministry of Health has also published an accurate summary of the most recent international research into the safety of the vaccine and people can also contact the Immunisation Advisory Centre on 0800 IMMUNE.”

To find out more about the free Boostrix and HPV vaccine:

  • talk to your doctor, local Public Health Nurse or health centre
  • call the Immunisation Advisory Centre free helpline 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863)
  • visit the http://www.health.govt.nz/hpv on the Ministry of Health website
  • contact the TDHB Public Health Unit Resource Room on 7537777 Ext 8862