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Off to University? Don't take any risks, vaccinate before you go.

Feb. 2, 2021


OFF TO UNIVERSITY? DON'T TAKE ANY RISKS

Are you off to University this year? Whilst living in hall can be the best days of your life, it can also be a high-risk time for your health. Now is the time to check all your vaccinations are up to date and that you take advantage of the new offering to get protection against some strains of meningitis for free. Do not assume that your parents made sure you had all the vaccinations you need, there are some that are either newly available or that you may have missed at school especially if you are male.

Meningitis

Menectra is a vaccination that protects against Meningitis A, C, W and Y. It is not part of the routine vaccination schedule, but because of the recent outbreak it is now being funded to those at greatest risk.

As of 1st December 2019, there has been funding for Menectra, for those aged 13-25 years of age in their first year of living in a tertiary education hall of residence, military barracks, prison or a boarding school hostel. There is also a catch-up programme, for all those aged 13-25 years who are already in one of these close living situations. If you are eligible you may take advantage of the vaccination up to 3 months before entering, and preferably greater than 2 weeks before. For the eligible age group, it is one vaccination, with a booster recommended after 5 years if still in the high-risk group. It is completely free to the eligible group – just make an appointment with the practice nurse. If you are ineligible it is still possible to be vaccinated but it will cost $138 per injection.

Whilst Menectra is now funded for some, it is a shame that Bexsero is not. Bexsero protects against the deadly Meningitis B. For those that want to maximise protection the Bexsero vaccination is available at a cost of $146 per vaccination. We highly recommend it to the same group of people who get the funded Menectra as an additional protection against meningitis. For this age group it requires 2 doses given 4 weeks apart.

Measles

Hopefully there are not many students left who have not had 2 doses of the MMR vaccination, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The deadly effects of a measles outbreak were recently felt in Samoa, and we should not let our guard down. Whilst the poor supply of MMR was an issue during the Auckland outbreak, we now have good supplies and it is well worth getting maximal protection from this highly effective vaccination as soon as possible. It is free to have 2 doses of MMR, so please make an appointment to have this for free.

HPV

Another important vaccine for young people is Gardasil, which protects against sexually transmitted cancer-causing human papilloma viruses. Given that Gardasil can prevent cervical, anal, head and neck and penile cancers it should be a high priority for young people. The added bonus is that it protects against genital warts. Girls have been offered this at school for several years, although initially the up take was not as good as it should have been. Boys are now being offered it, but there are many boys who missed out in school. A full course is 2-3 vaccinations depending on your starting age. Ideally it should be started before any sexual activity, but it is still worthwhile if this has already happened. It is free for young men and women up until 27 years of age, so if you have not had it yet please make an appointment with the practice nurse.