New Zealand: Tetanus vaccination drops for 3rd trimester

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption New Zealand health officials believe the decision will boost tourist numbers from Europe

Bovine tetanus vaccine (BTV) is to be phased out on trimester 3 of pregnancy from 2022, following a recommendation from the New Zealand health ministry.

New Zealand, traditionally one of the world’s most generous providers of healthcare to overseas travellers, decided to drop the disease in 1997, to prevent people getting pregnant and transmitting the illness back to their children.

But in recent years the government has invested extra money in the programme, according to a review.

An infectious disease has rarely been seen in New Zealand since the beginning of the plan.

Photo: Pixabay

Although there have been cases in Europe since 2005, for which there is no vaccine, and with some exceptions, New Zealand’s BTV policy is having no negative effect on tourism, health officials said.

At its peak, the travel sickness programme covered 140,000 pregnant women and their partners a year.

The main reason people seek medical assistance in a first trimester is the risk of developing anaemia, caused by a deficit of iron in the bloodstream. This is compounded by the effects of the HTLV-1 virus.

In July 2017, 46 people travelled from New Zealand to India – mostly from South Auckland – while seeking NHS treatment for tiredness.

New Zealand first became inoculated against tetanus in 1889. New Zealand’s biological doctor, Dr James Pike, found the large reservoir of tetanus was caused by a bird flu virus transmitted by migratory birds.

In turn, the vaccine was successful in eradicating that threat and in saving the lives of thousands of people when tuberculosis and measles outbreaks occurred.

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