Emergency community vaccination programme announced

Northland has been the worst affected, with seven cases this year.

The Prime Minister and Minister of Health have announced a community meningococcal W vaccination programme to combat the outbreak in Northland.

A community outbreak of meningococcal W is the epidemiology term for a sudden increase in occurrences of a disease in a particular time and place.

“We have been working closely with the Ministry of Health for some months and recently have been strongly advocating for them to approve this campaign as it’s the only truly effective preventative measure for our population,” chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain, said.

Northland has been the worst affected, with seven cases this year, including three deaths. There have been four cases reported in Northland in September and October. There has been no link between cases, and they are from a range of ages, geographical areas and both Māori and NZ European.

“The Ministry of Health advised us that vaccine stock is in short supply globally, but that they have been able to purchase 20,000 doses which will be coming to Northland,” Dr Chamberlain said.

“We are hopeful that more vaccine will become available so we can vaccinate the entire population under 20 years as we did in 2011 with the meningococcal C vaccination programme.

“However, with Christmas approaching, it will be a huge logistical feat to vaccinate 20,000 children and youth before they go on holiday.”

The free three-week community vaccination programme will be starting on Wednesday 5 December until Friday 21 December, seven days a week, at selected high schools and community centres across Northland.

The location of the clinics will be confirmed as soon as possible, with the information published on our website, social media, newspaper and radio.

Northland DHB will vaccinate Northland children aged from nine months to under five years and those aged 13 to under 20 years at the time of presentation. To be eligible the child will need to be a Northland resident.

“We are targeting those two population groups because research shows that vaccinating them will have the greatest impact on reducing meningococcal disease spreading in the entire community,” Dr Chamberlain said.

To keep up to date on clinic locations go to www.northlanddhb.org.nz