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Calls for meningococcal vaccine to be funded after six deaths from rare strain this year

There are calls for the meningococcal vaccine to be funded after six people died of the rare strain group W this year.

The rare strain of the disease is on the rise in New Zealand, with 24 cases of meningococcal W this year, sparking a warning from the Ministry of Health.

Infectious diseases specialist and paediatrician Dr Emma Best told TVNZ's Breakfast the vaccine is not funded at the moment.

“I think it’ll be something that’ll be considered, for sure.”

Dr Best says the disease is common in children under the age of five and in teenagers aged 15-19.

“The symptoms are different for a young baby, they might have a high fever, lethargic and have a floppy rather than having a stiff neck. An older person would get the typical symptoms of vomiting, headaches and that spreading rash.”

She says if you’re feeling unwell make sure you are with somebody to see if you’re becoming worse and says, "if you are worried, act quickly" and make sure you take your child to the doctors.

A Whangārei mother of four lost her seven-year-old daughter to the rare strain four months ago, according to RNZ.

Infectious disease specialist Dr Emma Best talks to Breakfast about the symptoms and how to act. Source: Breakfast