PHARMAC has confirmed they have procured an additional 5000 doses of Meningococcal ACWY vaccine, which brings the total stock available for Northland's targeted three-week vaccination programme to 25,650 doses.
The vaccination programme started today in Northland to halt the spread of a community outbreak of the W strain of the bacterium that causes meningococcal disease (Men W).
Northland residents who are aged from 9 months to under 5 years and from 13 to under 20 years are eligible for the free vaccination.
“Our aim is to build our population's immunity and we can achieve this by ensuring that all of the eligible children are offered the vaccine over the next three weeks,” said Jeanette Wedding, General Manager, Child, Youth, Maternal, Oral, Public Health Services and District Hospitals, Northland DHB.
The groups that are eligible for the free vaccinations have been targeted specifically because children under 5 are the population that is generally most affected by meningococcal disease. As a result, vaccinating this age group will protect them from getting meningococcal disease. The vaccine cannot be given to babies under 9 months.
The other group, those aged 13 to under 20-year-olds, have been targeted because this is the age group that generally carries the bacterium that causes the disease. Even if they have no symptoms, carriers can infect those around them. Vaccinating this age group will lower the number of carriers in Northland and stop the spread of meningococcal disease across the entire community.
In other words, vaccinating this age group will help protect everyone in Northland.
Northland's vaccination programme starts today, 5 December, and runs until 21 December. Details on clinic locations are on the Northland DHB website www.northlanddhb.org.nz(external link).
It is important to seek medical help immediately if you or your child have any of the symptoms of meningococcal disease by contacting your local accident and medical or ED department, your GP or Healthline 0800 611 116. Symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, rash, drowsiness or irritability.
Men W may not have the traditional symptoms of meningococcal disease described above. As a result, it is important to seek medical attention if you or your child feels very sick.
Private supplies of Meningococcal ACWY vaccine are separate from the publicly funded vaccines available for Northland and eligible high-risk groups nationwide.
The suppliers of the private vaccines have reported high demand in recent weeks and there have been intermittent local vaccine shortages. Stocks of the vaccine may be limited due to global demand but suppliers are doing what they can to secure more vaccines for the private market in New Zealand.
PHARMAC continues to work with suppliers to procure more vaccine doses so that the free vaccination programme can be extended to include 5 to 12 year old children in Northland.