Health provider networks are concerned about the likelihood of ‘twindemics’ as childhood immunisations continue to be missed. In Aotearoa, children get free vaccinations against 12 diseases, including whooping cough (pertussis), measles and polio.
But, as the vaccine rollout for five-to-11-year-old tamariki with the child Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 begins this week, health professionals are worried the routine jabs are being bypassed. National Hauora Coalition clinical director and National Māori Pandemic Group co-leader Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen says this is a serious concern as the country works toward reconnecting New Zealand to the world.
Border restrictions have kept many viruses out of New Zealand but he says opening the border is likely to bring in a fresh wave of measles, RSV and the flu virus. “We really need to elevate our efforts to catch up all missing vaccinations,” he says.
Dr Jansen says all vaccines (except the shingles vaccine Zostavax which needs a seven-day gap between does) can be given at the same time or immediately before or after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
“Like many of the childhood immunisations, when we administer more than one vaccine, each injection is placed into a different upper arm or thigh. “