Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew is welcoming the introduction of free rotavirus vaccination from today.
“The vaccine, which is given orally rather than an injection, will be part of babies’ standard immunisations at ages six weeks, three months and five months,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“Usually with childhood vaccines, if you’re late you can catch up. But for rotavirus, babies must have the first of three doses before they are 15 weeks old. If they’re too late, then babies will miss out,” says Mrs Goodhew.
“Babies born on or after 19 March 2014 still have a chance to get the free vaccine, but the oldest of these babies will only have a few days.”
Mrs Goodhew is encouraging parents to make sure they get all their babies’ immunisations on time.
“Getting immunised on time is important to protect them against life-threatening diseases such as whooping cough. The time limit on the rotavirus vaccine is just another good reason to get in on time.
“Almost every young child will catch rotavirus at some point before they are three years old, unless they’re immunised. Most recover in a few days without any treatment, but between 600 and 800 babies and young children are admitted to hospital each year with complications such as dehydration.”
The vaccine is part of the immunisation programme in many countries around the world. In Australia, the vaccine has resulted in a 70 percent decrease in hospitalisation for rotavirus.
More information about rotavirus vaccine is available on the Ministry of Health website www.moh.govt.nz.
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129