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Kids Health Panui

This e-newsletter has information about child/tamariki health issues for Early Childhood Education Services staff across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts.  This newsletter is sent once per term.  If you would like to subscribe, fill in your details here.

26 March 2018

Kids Health Panui

This edition covers whooping cough, mumps, breastfeeding and the preschool public health nursing service.

Whooping cough epidemic continues

With the current national whooping cough epidemic, it’s important to check that you and your family are up-to-date with your immunisations, especially if you’re pregnant or have a baby.

Since November 2017 (across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts) there have been 283 cases of whooping cough notified to the local Medical Officer of Health.

Whooping cough (also called pertussis) can be a serious disease. It is caused by a bacterium that is easily spread by coughing and sneezing.  Symptoms usually start with a runny nose and dry cough.  The coughing gets worse and is followed, particularly in babies, by difficulty breathing (referred to as ‘whooping’), and sometimes vomiting. 

Babies under one year old are most at risk of serious complications from whooping cough.  They are often unable to feed or breathe properly, so become very ill and may need to be admitted to hospital. The illness is usually milder in adults many of whom don’t realise they have whooping cough. Adults may therefore pass the illness on and anyone with a cough should, if possible, avoid contact with young babies.

What can we do to help prevent whooping cough?

  • Adult whooping cough immunisation is recommended for all staff working in ECE centres. This is a booster dose given every 10 years. Staff can get vaccinated at their GPs, however, there will be a cost for this.

  • Parents should ensure that their children are up to date with their free routine childhood immunisations which include immunisations against whooping cough.

  • Whooping cough immunisation is also recommended and free for women in the late stages of pregnancy as this helps protect their baby from getting whooping cough when they are very young, particularly before they can get their own routine immunisations starting at 6 weeks of age.

  • Good hand hygiene is always important and remember to cover your cough and not to cough on, or near, babies.

If anyone has a recent persistent cough they should stay away from the ECE centre and see their doctor for assessment and advice.

If a child or staff member is diagnosed with whooping cough by their GP they need to stay away from the ECE centre until they have had sufficient antibiotic to clear the infection (2-5 days depending on the medicine given) or three weeks from starting coughing if they do not take antibiotics. After either of these, they will no longer be infectious even if they still have an ongoing cough.

For more information on whooping cough and immunisation please visit the Toi Te Ora website.

Mumps outbreak

New Zealand is experiencing several outbreaks of mumps.  Most parts of the country have been affected over the past few months. In the last month 29 mumps cases in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts have been notified to the local Medical Officer of Health.

Immunisation with the MMR vaccine is the best protection against mumps – and it also protects against measles and rubella.  MMR is recommended and free for anyone born since 1 January 1969 and is routinely given to children at 15 months and 4 years of age.

Mumps is very infectious and spreads from person to person by coughing and sneezing, or through contact with infected saliva, such as by sharing food and drink. Symptoms of mumps infection include fever, headache and swelling over the cheek or jaw area on one or both sides of the face.  Symptoms usually appear 2 to 3 weeks after contact with someone who is infectious. It is usually a mild illness that lasts about one week, but it can have serious complications.

What can we do to help prevent mumps?

Prevent mumps spreading by:

Updating immunisation registers
Early Childhood Centres and Primary Schools must maintain their immunisation registers under the Health (Immunisation) Regulations 1995.  This allows unimmunised children who have been in contact with someone with mumps to be identified quickly to help reduce the risk of further spread.  For more information view the Immunisation Guidelines for Early Childhood Services and  Primary Schools.

Providing advice in your newsletter
Ask parents and caregivers to check that their child's/children's immunisations are up-to-date.  Immunisation is free.  Immunisation given on time is the best way to prevent mumps.  The first dose of MMR vaccine is usually given at 15 months of age and the second dose at four years of age.

Parents and staff should also make sure that they are immune to mumps.  Anyone who has had mumps that was confirmed by a doctor is likely to be immune, and most people born before 1981 will be immune because mumps used to be quite common.  Everyone else should check that they are up to date with their vaccinations.  It is never too late to catch up.

Non immune contacts of mumps cases may be required to stay away from ECE.

What to do if mumps occurs in early childhood education services (ECE)
Once a notification of mumps is received by the local public health service, the early childhood service the child attends will be contacted by public health staff who will provide information and advice to the manager or principal.

Unimmunised children/students and staff, or those with no immunity to mumps, who have been close contacts of a mumps case during the infectious stages may be excluded from school or ECE service to prevent the spread of this disease. 

For more information about mumps visit the Toi Te Ora website.

Celebrating breastfeeding

Our communities, especially Early Childhood Education services can all do something to support mums to breastfeed.  Adopting a breastfeeding friendly policy, displaying signage, having comfortable sitting areas for breastfeeding mothers and hosting events that promote breastfeeding are some of the ways to achieve this.

A recent, positive example of this is the Whakatane Summer Latch On event which was organised and run to celebrate and raise awareness of breastfeeding and its health benefits. Mums and their babies gathered for the event at one of the breastfeeding friendly accredited spaces, Whakatane’s Te Koputu, library and exhibition centre in February. The event was hosted by the Eastern Bay of Plenty Breastfeeding Coalition - Ukaipo Inc, a collation that aims to support, promote and normalise breastfeeding.

Toi Te Ora recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months and then continue to breastfeed along with the introduction of solid foods. 

Local businesses and organisations can support the normalisation of breastfeeding all year round by becoming Breastfeeding Friendly accredited by Toi Te Ora.  Recently, Seedlings Preschool Edgecumbe became accredited and saw the total number of Breastfeeding Friendly Spaces accredited reach 250. They have joined other early childhood education services, workplaces, cafes, restaurants, retailers and libraries across the Bay of Plenty as Breastfeeding Friendly Spaces.

If you would like to become Breastfeeding Friendly read more about it here or email

Preschool public health nursing service

For the Bay of Plenty District

In the Bay of Plenty, ECE services have a Preschool Public Health Nurse (PPHN) available for you to access. We work with children and their families around a wide range of health issues such as behavioural, toileting, developmental and social issues.

We also help children whose needs are not being met by the available services, or who need reconnecting into available services.

You can contact your Preschool Public Health Nurse at Community Health 4 Kids Services on (07) 577 3383 for Tauranga or (07) 306 0944 for Whakatane. You can also make a referral directly to

For further information on this service in the Bay of Plenty please refer to the blue Preschool Public Health Nurse Service Folder in your preschool centre.

For the Lakes district

A registered nurse is happy to take calls and queries regarding health concerns and point preschool teachers in the right direction if she is unable to assist you herself. The phone number for the Preschool Public Health Nurse in Rotorua is 0800 MYNURSE.

You can also contact the Well Child Nurses at Rotorua and Taupo Plunket, Tipu Ora in Rotorua and Tuwharetoa Health Services in Taupo/Turangi.

The aim of the Kids' Health Panui e-newsletter is to provide information about child/tamariki health issues to staff of Early Childhood Education Services (ECE Services) across the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts. This health information can then be passed on to parents and whanau via your own ECE Service newsletters.

Kids' Health Panui is sent to ECE Services once per term and is brought to you by Toi Te Ora Public Health.  For more information about our service visit our website, Facebook or Twitter.

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Last modified: 06 Mar 2018
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