Hopeful turning point to stop Meningococcal in Northland

By Taroi Black

There has been a huge response from the Northland region to vaccinations, with over 22,000 young children and teenagers immunised against a deadly new meningococcal strain. 

The Ministry of Health, facing criticism for not responding quickly enough, confirmed today that it has obtained more vaccines to meet the demands. 

One concerned mother, Siobhan Pukeroa, says, "It's very scary.  I don't mind the wait, it's worth it." 

A family told Te Kāea that more than a hundred people were lined up all morning outside Whangarei Girls High School, some have been there longer than two hours. 

Community pediatrician Dr Ailsa Tuck says, "It's pretty phenomenal isn't it?  I think that suggests the communication programme is getting out there to our community- but it also highlights to us that this is a significant worry and anxiety for our parents."

Today the Ministry of Health confirmed that they've obtained 5,000 vaccines in addition to the 20,000 already in the programme. 

Concerned parents are waiting out the storm.

The free vaccination is for children aged between 9 months and 5 years, and teenagers are also being targeted by the ministry as part of an urgent programme to fight the outbreak of Meningococcal Group W (MenW). 

"We want to get maximum coverage.  Ideally 100% of those young people immunised in that time and will be obviously working hard and so will our community to achieve that."

The number of MenW cases nationwide this year is 29 including 7 in Northland.

Meningococcal symptoms:

  •  High Fever. 
  • headaches. 
  • Stiff neck. 
  • Vomiting.
  • Purple rash-like spots or bruisers.