5 Dec 2018

Hundreds line up in rain for meningococcal vaccinations

4:57 pm on 5 December 2018

Northland DHB says there's no need for people to queue in the rain with small children for their meningococcal vaccinations.

The queue outside the vax clinic at  Whangarei Girls High

The queue outside the vax clinic at Whangarei Girls High Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

Hundreds of people waited in line for two hours in light drizzle in Whangārei this morning, on the first day of an emergency immunisation programme for the new W strain of the disease.

But the DHB says they won't miss out if they come back tomorrow, or later.

Spokesperson Roger Tuck, who's a retired paediatrician, said the vaccine may be in short supply globally, but Northland had enough to vaccinate everyone who was eligible.

That includes everyone aged 9 months to 5 years, and teenagers from 13 to 19.

Whangarei MP Shane Reti quizzed Pharmac at Parliament today about when it ordered the vaccine for the campaign.

Chief executive Sarah Fitt said it acted the day the government gave the green light, and managed to secure a lot despite an international shortage.

"This is a huge volume for us to procure at short notice. Our normal usage of this vaccine that's funded is about 2000 vaccines a year so for us to procure 10,000 vaccines is 10 times our normal annual usage."

Dr Tuck said it was good that people were keen to immunise their children but there was no need for panic.

He said meningococcal W was still a rare disease, though a terrible one, and the vaccine worked well against it.

Several hundred children and teenagers have been vaccinated today at community clinics in Kaitaia, Kerikeri and Whangārei.

The clinics will remain open over the next 17 days.