7 November 2005
Maori provider taking MeNZB immunisations to Kohanga Reo
As part of its campaign to boost the numbers of young Maori aged six weeks to five years to gain protection from meningococcal B disease, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board has contracted a Maori provider to carry out immunisations in Kohanga Reo throughout Hawke’s Bay.
Project manager, Chris Styles, said the programme has been up and running in Hawke’s Bay since April this year, offering free immunisation to everyone aged six weeks to 19 years.
Now the programme is increasing its focus on vaccinating those who have not yet started the three doses of the vaccine and those who have not completed the full course. The MeNZB vaccine offers protection against the epidemic strain of meningococcal disease in New Zealand.
The risk of contracting meningococcal disease is three times higher for Maori than non-Maori. “We have been particularly concerned for the under-five age group, who face the highest risk from meningococcal disease, and a lot of work is being done to ensure these vulnerable children can get immunisation easily.
“Many whanau visit a local doctor for their immunisations, but this is not always easy when transport, work pressures or other barriers make access to a medical centre difficult .
“There’s been a fantastic response by Maori to the school programme where 89% of Maori school-age children have had all three doses, this compares favourably to 82% for ‘Other ethnicity’ school-age children. This shows Maori parents are keen to protect their tamariki from meningococcal B disease,” Chris Styles said.
Visits to Kohanga Reo have begun. Nurses from Te Kupenga Hauora – Ahuriri will be carrying out the vaccinations at kohanga in the Hastings, Napier and Central Hawke’s Bay areas.
Acting chief executive of Te Kupenga Hauora, Caroline Lampp, said they had taken on extra staff who would be dedicated to the MeNZB programme. “This has increased the team considerably as there’s a lot of work involved in sharing information with whanau and following up with the consent process.
Mrs Lampp said staff have found widespread enthusiasm and support for the programme to date, and are looking forward to working with the kohanga over the coming months.
Te Kupenga – Ahuriri is a Maori Health provider based in Sale Street, Napier. The organisation mainly provides community-based health services in the Napier area. They have a contract with the DHB for hearing and vision testing in the 57 kohanga across Hawke’s Bay, from Takapau in the south to Mahia in the North. Their existing relationship with kohanga reo has been a bonus in planning for this programme.