Immunisation campaign under way to combat viruses


Bruce Jones (at back) spreads the immunisation message at the Stone Soup event at Tawhero School.

7 July 2020


Getting immunised is a crucial measure in ensuring good health.


In fact, Whanganui public health specialist Bruce Jones believes it should be part of everyone’s general health regime, like brushing your teeth; washing your hands (which we all do with some frequency now); enjoying a bit of exercise; and eating well.


However, immunisation has fallen off the radar for some people which is why Whanganui District Health Board has joined the national catch-up campaign to make sure everyone is up to date.


The ‘Are You Up To Date’ campaign covers MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) immunisation for 13 to 29 years olds, and HPV (human papillomavirus) for 13 to 26 years.


Jones and the DHB public health team are particularly targeting secondary school students, and have made contact with every school in the region, as well as alternative education facilities; YMCA and those who are home-schooled.


“The MMR vaccine is two doses, while HPV is two doses for under-15s and three doses for those older,” he said.


“Some kids have one dose and then forget about the follow-ups, so we have consent forms going to every student’s home to make sure they are up to date. Immunisation is free and – yes – it is important.”


New Zealand was thought to be clear of measles but last year saw its worst surge in cases for two decades, mainly in the Auckland area. It is a highly infectious virus and can cause fever, a cough, rash and sore eyes, while severe cases can result in pneumonia, swelling of the brain and, very rarely, death.


Rubella can damage unborn children, while HPV is a common virus that can lead to cervical, penile and throat cancer.

The school campaign will kick off at the start of the new term later this month and will run into 2021. Later in the year, an MMR community campaign will be launched for those in the 19-29 years range.


Meanwhile, the campaign was being promoted on Saturday, July 4, at a Stone Soup community event at Tawhero School.


More information is available at and or by calling the DHB Public Health Centre on 06 348 1775.