Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew is today promoting the message “Don’t assume you’re immune to meningococcal”, particularly to students at university hostels and boarding schools as they start the academic year. “Meningococcal disease is dangerous, and notoriously difficult to diagnose.
It needs urgent medical treatment, but its early symptoms can be mistaken for influenza or other illnesses. Preventing the disease and treating it quickly saves lives,” says Mrs Goodhew.“Teenagers and young adults living in communal accommodation such as hostels and boarding schools have a greater risk of contracting meningococcal.“This is why the Ministry of Health is reminding universities and boarding schools of the symptoms, treatments and the immunisation options, as students return to study after the summer holidays.”
Immunisations are available to purchase for protection against some strains of meningococcal. In New Zealand the C strain is responsible for just over half of the cases among teenagers and young adults.“Young people need to be aware that even if they’ve been immunised against meningococcal in the past, they’re unlikely to still be protected. “The immunisation campaign in the 2000s was a short term measure to end the epidemic of strain B of the meningococcal disease,” says Mrs Goodhew. “Before you head back to study, I encourage students and their caregivers to discuss the immunisation options with their doctor or student health.
“While you’re there, it’s a good opportunity to check if you’re up to date on the other routine immunisations, such as measles and HPV.”
Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129