The introduction of free rotavirus vaccinations is being marked
at the start of Immunisation Week.
Babies being born during April will be among the first who are
eligible for the free rotavirus vaccine, which starts on July
The theme of this year's Immunisation Week is on time, every
time, Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says.
Rotavirus vaccine will be given alongside the existing childhood
vaccinations at six weeks, three months and five months.
"Usually with those 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," Mrs Goodhew says.
Mrs Goodhew is encouraging parents to enrol their babies at a GP
practice as soon as they are born, to make sure they get their
early immunisations 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 hundreds of babies
and young children each year are admitted to hospital with
complications such as dehydration."
The vaccine is part of Australia's immunisation programme, where
it has resulted in a 70% decrease in hospitalisations for
rotavirus. In New Zealand, this would mean 266 fewer children would
be hospitalised each year.