NZ Childhood Immunisation Schedule changes July 2017

I’ve just been updating the Raising Children video resource to reflect the changes happening with the under-fives National Immunisation Schedule. For health professionals, some vaccines are being supplied by new companies come 01 July, which is probably not of too much interest unless you’re keen to know more about a specific vaccine, which is quite your right to know. In NZ we have an informed consent process, and vaccination is voluntary, so if you’re keen on knowing more on vaccine specifics, go looking. But for the mums and dads of little people more interested in the ‘schedule’ there are indeed some changes afoot for two vaccines – Rota virus and Varicella – aka Chickenpox pox.

From 01 July this year, the oral Rotavirus vaccine goes from the three vaccine course, to two. So, 6 weeks and 3 months remain in place, but if you start on this new regime with your bubby come 01 July, you won’t be getting the 5 month dose.

Rotavirus affects the gut and gives babies and young children gastroenteritis, ranging from a short period of mild, watery diarrhoea to diarrhoea and vomiting that causes dehydration.

When my little ones were small, there was no vaccine and one of them did indeed get Rotavirus. It’s one of those times where you just hunker down at home, watch lots of telly and get through as best you can. Lots of hand washing, lots of clothes and bedding washing! I was thankful for mum who brought dinners over so I didn’t need to think about food.

The other vaccine change is that Chickenpox is now funded to be free on the schedule. It will be given at 15 months.

I recall our eldest contracting the chickenpox virus at age four, and then of course in rapid succession so did her younger brother aged one. I have a photo of them as a right little spotty pair playing at home – that was our life while they were contagious – finding fun within the four walls. We were cooped up at home for quite some time until they were past the infectious stage. Children are contagious for a couple of days before they even get the blisters, which of course is probably how the eldest one caught it in the first place – being sneezed on by a kindy mate who didn’t even know they had it.  The NZ Ministry of Health’s advice is to stay home for one week from the appearance of the rash until all the blisters have dried. If there are no complications, chickenpox usually clears up within 3–7 days for adults, and 5–10 days for children.

No vaccine back in the day, so we all had spotty kids at some stage or another if it was ‘going’ around. A vaccine has been available in the past few years, but until 01 July this year, it has not been free.

A couple of years ago our daughter went on exchange to a US university. Before you step foot on a US campus you need to show evidence you’ve had the varicella vaccine, or evidence you’ve had the disease. Back to the doctor we went to pull up the record of the chickenpox diagnosis back in 1999 to satisfy that requirement. For our son hoping to also exchange next year, it won’t be quite as easy. I knew he was a sitter to get the virus from his big sis, so once he broke out in spots it seemed irresponsible to take him to the doctors where sick people where, so I took a few spotty pics for the album and hunkered down. So, he has no medical record, and it’ll be a blood test to show he has immunity.

All a bunch easier for babies born in early 2016 who have the 15 month vaccine after 01 July this year… who might choose to do a uni exchange in 2036! That of course will seem a lifetime away to a parent of a toddler, but I tell you, it goes by in a flash. That chubby bubby who keeps you awake at night becomes a tall young man who keeps you awake for other reasons – like hearing the front door open at 3am after a night out!

To find out about the NZ immunisation schedule and the changes afoot, go here:

Raising Children is a child centric, NZ parenting video resource with 100+ short videos from newborn to end of primary. By subscribing for free and if you have a child providing their DOB, you’ll unlock all the stories, text tips and useful links, plus receive reminders when your child moves to the next age & stage to come back and ‘upskill’ for the next part of the parenting journey.