Hep A - 1,000 protected but more still need to be vaccinated

Thursday October 24, 2013

‚ÄčOver one thousand preschoolers in Ashburton, Rakaia and Methven have received free hepatitis A vaccinations as part of Canterbury DHB's response to the outbreak.

Eight hundred and eighty-seven children aged over 12 months and under five years were vaccinated at six vaccination clinics, and 127 pre-schoolers were vaccinated at preschool clinics.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, congratulated the Ashburton community for their great response.

"This is a fantastic effort by the Ashburton community. A few more vaccinations and we will be well within a level of coverage which will prevent further spread," Dr Humphrey says.

"The clinics have been very busy, but poor weather conditions probably kept families away early on.  We need to vaccinate at least 120 more preschoolers to achieve 70% coverage so it's important families go to their General Practice team  to get their young children immunised."

"If you have a preschool child over 12 months old you can still take them to your General Practice team where the vaccination will be free of charge. 

"If you have already had your children vaccinated well done, but if you know of a family that has not taken advantage of the free vaccine please let them know that it is still available from their GP. 

"As well as providing immunity to the child, the vaccine also protects their older siblings, family, friends and anyone who may come into contact with them," Dr Humphrey says. 

The hepatitis A outbreak began in Ashburton in April this year. So far there has been 28 confirmed cases, ranging in age from 14 months to 53 years.  The last case was notified on 28th August 2013.

The disease is transmitted when people fail to wash their hands properly after going to the toilet. As preschoolers are generally hand-washing novices, spread of the disease is often through this group. Nearly every case in the Ashburton outbreak had a direct contact with an infected preschooler.


Page last reviewed: 24 October 2013