Parents

2014 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year - Dr Lance O'Sullivan

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dr Lance O'Sullivan, a general practitioner in Kaitaia, has a passion for improving healthcare and the eradication of poverty-related illnesses in Northland children.

His efforts to improve child health in Northland have been recognised with the 2014 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year award.

O'Sullivan and his wife Tracy set up the low-cost health clinic Te Kohhunga Whakaora ("The Nest of Wellness"). O'Sullivan has also been instrumental in establishing Manawa Ora Korokoro Ora (Moko) programme, the first Northland full-time, school-based health clinic for children at Kaitaia Primary School, and the Kainga Ora ("Well Home") initiative that fixes run down homes to make them warmer and safer.

Information source: 2014 New Zealander of the Year website

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Measles in Wellington, Taupo/Turangi, Auckland

Monday, 13 January 2014

Measles in New Zealand confirmed over the Christmas/New Year period.

Lakes District Health Board identified 10 cases of measles over the Christmas/new year period. Three of the 10 people had travelled to Sydney for the 2013 World Supremacy Battlegrounds hip-hop competition with teams from Hamilton and Huntly. Auckland Regional Public Health identified one case of measles, this person had also attended to the hip-hop competition. As of 13 January 2014, five further cases of measles have been confirmed - two cases in Wellington and three in Turangi/Taupo. The most recent cases are contacts of the earlier cases.

The total of confirmed measles cases in this outbreak in now 16.

Measles is easily spread to people who have not had the disease in the past or previously been immunised. Travel over the holiday period means measles cases could occur anywhere in New Zealand.

Anyone with symptoms of measles should stay at home and telephone their doctor or after hours clinic BEFORE visiting them so you don't have to wait for your appointment around other people. Healthline (0800 611 116) can also be contacted for advice. Our Measles webpage has more information about measles symptoms.

People born in 1969 or later should check that they have received two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) immunisations. Those born before 1969 are expected to have had measles before immunisation against the disease was introduced in New Zealand.

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Facebook claims are nothing new

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The latest anti-immunisation Facebook claims about Gardasil being a huge scam are just a rehash of an old 2009 story published as 'news' by a British tabloid.

The story claimed that one of the investigators involved in the clinical trials for Gardasil (Dr Diane Harper) had spoken out against the human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil. Harper denied the claims made by the Daily Express, asserting that her criticism was about marketing of the vaccine in the United States not the safety of the vaccine. Not surprisingly, their truthfullness challenged, the tabloid removed the story from their website. Harper went on to complain to the Press Council.

Read the IMAC position statement on Lead Developer of HPV Vaccines Comes Clean, Warns Parents and Young Girls It's all A giant Deadly Scam.

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Immunisation rates better for all

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Health Minister Tony Ryall reported a significant improvement in New Zealand's immunisation rates for children by their second birthday.

More importantly, immunisation rates for Maori and Pacific children have improved by 50% since 2007 with the number of children being equal to or higher than European children in more than half of the DHBs.  Ryall considers "This is a tremendous result and a tribute to the hard work of general practice teams, Well Child providers, community outreach teams, midwives, district health board staff and the national immunisation programme team".

The full media release is available on the Beehive website.

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Australia approves meningococcal B vaccine

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has licensed the Novartis meningococcal B vaccine Bexsero for use in Australia.

The next steps will involve the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation making recommendations of who should receive the vaccine on the National Immunisation Programme to the Minister for Health and Ageing, and Novartis working with regulatory authorities to make the vaccine available for private purchase in Australia.

Meningococcal disease in Australia is predominantly caused by serogroup B. In contrast, most meningococcal disease in New Zealand is caused by serogroup B or serogroup C.

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Canterbury free whooping cough boosters

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Pregnant women, from 30 weeks of pregnancy, and those who are up to two weeks after delivering their baby are being encouraged to have a free whooping cough immunisation.

For best protection of their newborn the booster immunisation would be given by the end of the 36th week of pregnancy (ideally between 31-33 weeks). This allows time for the woman's immune system to produce protection against whooping cough, reducing the risk she will have the disease when the baby is actually delivered. Circulating protection against whooping cough can also pass through the placenta into the baby and provide the baby with some of their own protection against the disease for a short period of time (this varies between mothers and babies). The immunisation can be given and is free between 37-40+ weeks of pregnancy.

The booster immunisation can be given anytime from 30 weeks of pregnancy to two weeks after delivery.

For best protection of the newborn the booster immunisation would be given by the end of the 36th week of pregnancy (ideally between 31-33 weeks):

  • This allows time for the woman's immune system to produce protection against whooping cough, reducing the risk she will have the disease when the baby is actually delivered and for the subsequent year when the baby's risk of complications from whooping cough is highest.
  • Circulating protection against whooping cough can also pass through the placenta into the baby and provide the baby with some of their own protection against the disease for a short period of time (this varies between mothers and babies).

However, after 36 weeks of pregnancy administering the booster immunisation:

  • Will increase the woman's protection against whooping cough, reducing the risk that she will have the disease during the baby's first year of life when their risk of complications from whooping cough is highest.
  • But may not allow enough time before delivery for the woman to produce whooping cough protection and for this protection to pass through the placenta into the baby.

However, after delivery of the baby administering the booster immunisation:

  • Will increase the woman's protection against whooping cough, reducing the risk that she will have the disease during the baby's first year of life when their risk of complications from whooping cough is highest.

Babies less than one year of age, and particularly less than six months of age, have the highest risk of getting whooping cough (pertussis) and needing to be hospitalised. Reducing the risk that their mother and other household members will get whooping cough means they are less likely to get the disease too. Immunity against whooping cough decreases over time, 10-15 years after having the disease and 4-6 years after having the vaccine people can get whooping cough again. This means that it is always around and there are outbreaks every few years.

After the course of whooping cough immunisations or after a booster immunisation around 86 people out of every 100 people will be fully protected from the disease. The other 14 people may still get pertussis but it is usually more mild than if they hadn't had the immunisation.

The whooping cough vaccine is combined with tetanus and diphtheria vaccines (Tdap). It doesn't contact the actual diseases and cannot cause disease. After years of administering non-live vaccines to pregnant women they are considered safe for both the mother and the fetus, e.g. in some countries the only time health professionals see women regularly is during pregnancy and the ante-natal visits are used to ensure they have a course of tetanus vaccine.

It doesn't matter of the pregnant women has recently had a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) immunisation because of a wound that may have been contaminated with tetanus. As long as four weeks have passed she can have the tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough vaccine.

All the young children in the household should be up to date with their childhood immunisations. Older children and adults in the household should have a tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough vaccine too. However they have to buy their vaccine through their GP.

Practice staff are reminded that the Tdap (Boostrix®) vaccine routinely in the vaccine fridge for the 11 year old immunisation IS NOT to be used for non-funded patients. Either Adacel® or Boostrix® MUST be purchased from Healthcare Logistics for anyone not having their 11 year old schedule immunisation.

For more information visit the Canterbury HealthInfo website - click on 'Women's Health, then on 'Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Vaccine for Pregnant and Postpartum Women.

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Suspected third case of meningococcal disease in Northland

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A 45 year old woman was admitted to Whangarei Hospital yesterday with suspected meningococcal disease. She has no clear links to the Northlnad children diagnosed with the disease earlier this month.

Close contacts of the woman are being identified and offered advice and preventative treatment.

Meningococcal bacteria can be carried in the nose and throat of people without causing a problem. It is not known why some people become vulnerable to the bacteria invading their system and making them sick. 
 
The disease can occur at any age but is more likely to occur in children under the age of 5 years. Symptoms of meningococcal disease in babies and young children may include fever, irritability, sleepiness, floppiness, hard to wake, refusing drink or food, vomiting and a rash. Adults can have similar symptoms and may also have a stiff neck, headache and sensitivity to lights.
 
Dr Clair Mills, Medical Officer of Health at Northland District Health Board, advised that "meningococcal meningitis can be treated with antibiotics, so anyone with some of these symptoms should seek medical attention without delay, as early treatment is very important."
 
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Two cases of rubella in Auckland region

Monday, 15 August 2011

Auckland Regional Public Health Service advised that two cases of rubella have been confirmed in the past week.

Rubella is a significant disease for women during the first four months of pregnancy because it can have severe effects on the unborn child, including deafness, blindness, brain damage and heart defects. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the only protection against rubella.

It cannot be given to a woman who knows she is pregnant but can be given to people in her family who are not immune to rubella, reducing the risk they will get rubella and bring it into the home. It is recommended that all women of child bearng age have their immunity to rubella checked before becoming pregnant.

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Five cases of rubella in Auckland

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Rubella is a significant disease for pregnant women. It can have severe effects on the unborn child, including deafness, blindness, brain damage and heart defects.

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the only protection against rubella. It cannot be given to a woman who knows she is pregnant but can be given to people in her family who are not immune to rubella, reducing the risk they will get rubella and bring it into the home.

It is recommended that all women of child bearng age have their immunity to rubella checked before becoming pregnant.

 

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No link between meningococcal cases in Northland

Monday, 15 August 2011

A second child was admitted to Whangarei Hospital on 10 August with menignococcal disease. Their condition is stable.

Northland's Medical Officer of Health, Dr Claire Mills, advised that there is no obvious link between this child and the child with meningococcal disease transferred to Starship Hospital the day before. The strain of meningococcal bacteria causing the disease has not been typed for either child.

The two cases in Northland are not considered an outbreak of the disease. Meningococcal disease can occur at any age, but is most common in children under the age of five years.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease in babies and young children may include fever, irritability, sleepiness, floppiness, hard to wake, refusing drink or food, vomiting and a rash. Adults can have similar symptoms and may also have a stiff neck, headache and sensitivity to lights.

It is important to seek medical advice immediately if any of the above symptoms are present.

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