Medical officer warns young people can still get meningococcal disease even if they've been vaccinated

The Northland District Health board is warning young people and parents to be on the lookout for signs or symptoms of meningococcal even if the child has previously been vaccinated.

Medical officer of health Dr Simon Baker says children who have previously received the meningococcal vaccination can still get the disease because the vaccine does not protect against all types of the disease.

This comes after a 16-year-old boy from Kerikeri died of suspected meningococcal disease in Auckland Hospital on Saturday.  He had been among 190 people attending a St John youth camp on Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

"This is very tragic for the family of the young man who died, and for everyone at the camp," Dr Baker said.

The children returned to Auckland from the camp this afternoon.

Children return to Auckland from the St John camp on Motutapu Island. Source: 1 NEWS

The DHB says Auckland Regional Public Health Service went to Motutapu to provide protective antibiotics and assess the risk to others, however only a few people were considered to be "close contacts" and at risk of infection.

The DHB says Northland's Public Health Nurses have been talking to the family about who else might have been at risk in the previous seven days in which the young man was infectious.  Those who were in close contact with the young man have been provided with antibiotics.

"Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, and can be difficult to diagnose, so we are providing information to the young people and parents so they can be alert for symptoms," Dr Baker said.

"It can look like the flu early on but quickly gets much worse. It is important to get early treatment."

Symptoms included some or all of the following: fever; headache; vomiting; feeling sleepy, confused and delirious; loss of consciousness; joint pains; aching muscles; stiff neck; dislike of bright lights; or rashes, purple or red spots, or bruises.

Dr Baker said: “If you or anyone you know has these symptoms, don’t wait.”

People should phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 or visit a doctor. If they are concerned.

More than 160 young people returned to Auckland from a St John Ambulance camp on a Hauraki Gulf island. Source: 1 NEWS