TODAY |

Anxious Northland parents queue for hours to get MenW meningococcal vaccine

In Northland this week, the masses turned out to immunise their children against the fatal MenW strain of the meningococcal disease, which has already taken three lives in the wider region. 

Hundreds queued at Whangarei Girls' High School, Kerikeri High School and Kaitaia hospital on Wednesday for the roll out of the vaccine programme.

Mounting fears pushed families outdoors, into queues that took hours to get through, following the deaths of three out of seven people who contracted the disease in the Northland area.

In New Zealand this year, 29 people contracted the disease, which is more than twice as many in 2017.

Anxious parents were relieved to see the three-week vaccination campaign rolled out for children aged nine months to four-years-old, and 13-19-year-olds.

A worldwide shortage of the vaccine can be attributed to the MenW's unpredictable nature, the Northern Advocate reported.

Just two weeks ago the Ministry of Health (MoH) had been accused of keeping quiet. 

The community was not notified of the outbreak until three people, whose cases appear unrelated, had died.

The DHB defended itself by saying it didn't want to panic parents.

Whangārei National MP and former GP Dr Shane Reti says he is not opposed to the $1-2 million vaccination programme but also accused the MoH of "sitting on their thumbs".

''The delay in acting on the outbreak may mean that the response won't be enough for the needs of the community.''

Like other communicable illnesses, overcrowded and poor living conditions heighten the risk of spreading the disease. 

From today 25,000 meningococcal vaccines will be handed out in Northland, following three deaths. Source: 1 NEWS