Additional community clinics will be set up as part of stage two of the free meningococcal vaccination programme across Northland.
About half or 11,000 of the 22,707 eligible children and young people in the region have been vaccinated since December 5 after the outbreak of the deadly MenW strain was declared in November. Two children have died from the disease from Northland.
Pharmacies are offering vaccinations across Northland to children aged nine months up to five years and teenagers aged between 13 and 20. From January 21, additional community clinics will be established which may include Māori providers and primary carers offering vaccination to the eligible age groups.
Seven pharmacies across Northland are offering vaccinations to the 13 to 20-year-olds, Northland District Health Board general manager of public health and district hospitals Jeanette Wedding said – Shackletons in Kaitaia, Unichem in Kerikeri, Kamo, and Onerahi, Unichem Buchanans, and Kensington Pharmacy.
In some of those pharmacies a nurse vaccinator would be on-site to vaccinate children nine months to under five years.
Wedding said reaching those aged 13 to under 20 was a particular focus of stage two.
“We know that many of our young people haven’t been vaccinated yet so we are working closely with youth organisations and employers to increase the uptake. This is important 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.”
Whangārei MP Dr Shane Reti questioned why there are meningitis vaccines available for private purchase in Auckland but were available free of charge only for select group of children in Northland.
He said the actual campaign which saw Northland children between five and 12 years miss out on the vaccine, concerned many parents.
But Northland DHB said Pharmac was responsible for sourcing publicly funded vaccines in New Zealand and were able to source a total of 25,000 doses for the community outbreak.
hat number was sufficient to vaccinate all of the children and young people that were targeted by the campaign, it said.
Spokeswoman Liz Inch said the limited vaccine available privately was separate to that purchased by Pharmac for Northland.
Clinic updates on stage two of vaccinations will be published on www.northlanddhb.org.nz.
Source: Northern Advocate