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Meningococcal vaccine should be provided for all Northlanders under 20 - local MP and doctor

The National MP for Whangārei, Dr Shane Reti, is lobbying for an extension to the meningococcal vaccination programme to cover all young Northlanders under 20. 

After three deaths in a meningococcal outbreak in the region last year, a vaccination campaign was launched targeting young Northlanders in their teens or aged under five. 

With a limited 25,000 doses available, the Ministry of Health said it had to prioritise.

The mother of eight-year-old boy Leo paid $100 to ensure her son wasn't at risk of meningococcal.

But Dr Reti, a general practitioner, told 1 NEWS that shouldn't be the case. 

"The ministry makes the case that the reason we're not vaccinating five to 12-year-olds is because there are no vaccines available.

"That's not possible. Thousands were sold privately in Auckland last month. And if we look at my GP ordering screen today we can see I can order vaccines today online," Dr Reti said.

At least 30 were available through an Auckland supplier.

"So no vaccines for Northland children, but thousands of vaccines sold privately in Auckland over the last month or so. That doesn't seem right," Dr Reti said.

The Ministry of Health maintains its targeted approach is the most effective response for the outbreak. Pharmac says it must meet the needs of all New Zealanders, not just those in Northland. 

But Dr Reti claims there were delays in rolling out the vaccinations in the first place. 

"So I think we should be vaccinating everyone under 20. And there are enough vaccines," he said. 

Dr Reti says limiting the campaign's scope could also limit its effectiveness.

Meanwhile the thousands of holidaymakers visiting Northland this summer are being warned to be vigilant in the wake of the meningococcal outbreak in the region.

Local MP and doctor, Shane Reti is lobbying for free vaccinations for all Northlanders under 20. Source: 1 NEWS