Immunisation important for teens too

22 May 2017

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to check their teen’s immunisation records to make sure have received their recommended immunisations.

Father of six, Councillor and Health Board member Josh Wharehinga stresses the importance of immunisation for older children and teens. “I take my children’s vaccinations very seriously because I owe it to my forebears.

“They had to live through diphtheria, polio, smallpox and a multitude of other diseases killing or disabling their friends and family. We don’t see the widespread effects that were common even as recently as the 1960s thanks to immunisation.

“We talk about things like immunisation around the dinner table so my children are aware of how important it is. They know we’re really lucky to live in a time where vaccines are available. My family and I need to protect ourselves and also help protect others to minimise the chance of getting debilitating diseases like measles, mumps or rubella. Vaccines seriously decrease the risk of catching something in comparison to someone who isn’t vaccinated.

Ask your family doctor or Medical Centre to check your families vaccination records to make sure your kids are all up to date. Some teenagers may have missed out on the protection they should have received as young children because they were born before processes for reminding parents of immunisations that are due were developed. Measles, in particular, is a risk for this age group, and spreads quickly in schools when we have outbreaks.’

We asked at DeLatour Medical Centre, where my family go, says Josh. “At 15 years old, my son Pharaoh has not had the HPV Vaccine which is now given to boys and girls at in Year 8 at Intermediate. When he was at Intermediate it was only given to girls. From this year it is now available free to boys under 18 from your Medical Centre. It is an important protection from the cancers caused by the HPV virus.”

“My 12-year-old daughter Rongomai has recently had immunisations against tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and human papillomavirus (HPV) at school. You need two doses of the MMR vaccine to be fully protected. If your teenager missed out on either these or other childhood immunisations, they need to catch up.“

To encourage teenagers to check whether they are fully immunised, Hauora Tairāwhiti staff have been going around local high schools with a mini- road show this month as well as putting up displays at Gisborne Boys High School. There will be a pop-up immunisation clinic at Puhi Kaiti at the end of the month.

Useful websites and freephone (0800) numbers

To find out more about immunisation, visit the Ministry of Health’s website (health.govt.nz/immunisation) or the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) website (immune.org.nz).

Or call 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) or Healthline (0800 611 116).