Vaccinations available at pharmacies

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2014
Photographer Jeremy Hill
Better access: Accredited pharmacist vaccinator Deana Fraser says the whopping cough and meningococcal vaccinations now available at pharmacies will help protect the community against serious diseases.

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Whooping cough and meningococcal are serious diseases and can be deadly if preventable action isn't taken.

To boost awareness and curb sickness spreading, vaccinations for the two diseases are now available from pharmacies.

Accredited pharmacist vaccinator and co-owner of Te Atatu Peninsula's Unichem Peninsula Pharmacy Deana Fraser says new parents and students in communal living environments are among those that should consider getting vaccinated.

"We're helping to prevent the spread of whooping cough to infants who are most at risk.

"It's more convenient for patients to pop into their local pharmacy," she says.

The whooping cough or pertussis vaccine can be given to patients over 18 years old.

Newborn babies that catch it from their parents or close family members make up more than 70 per cent of cases recorded.

Mrs Fraser says the meningococcal vaccine is available to anyone over 16 years and students living in hostels or shared environments are at higher risk of contracting the disease.

"If someone comes into contact with the disease it can easily spread in a confined living environment," she says.

The introduction of the vaccines follows the launch of flu vaccinations in pharmacies in 2012.

Alison Van Wyk, head of professional services at primary healthcare provider Pharmacybrands, says better access to vaccinations is essential to protect the community.

"Giving people the option to get vaccinated in their local pharmacy will help raise awareness of these diseases and the importance of protecting ourselves and our whanau."

Whooping cough vaccinations cost around $60 while meningococcal jabs range from $90 to $150.

Before pharmacy vaccinations, patients had to visit their general practitioner.

Infants and children still receive vaccinations from their doctor.

KEY FACTS

Whooping cough: Spread by coughing and sneezing, caused by bacteria which damages the breathing tubes.

Infants younger than six months who haven't completed their first three immunisations are most at risk.

Babies with whooping cough can struggle to feed or breathe properly which can result in hospitalisation.

Pneumonia, brain damage and even death can result.

The vaccine is funded for pregnant women from 28 to 38 weeks of gestation.

Meningococcal: A bacterial infection that causes two very serious illnesses – meningitis and septicaemia

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Diagnosis is difficult because symptoms can look like the flu but it can develop quickly, causing death or permanent disability

At least 13 groups of the disease have been identified.

Groups B and C are most likely to cause disease in New Zealand.

- Western Leader

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