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Health Minister has serious questions to answer

Health Minister has serious questions to answer

It’s been revealed there were enough vaccines for all of the children in Northland after a Meningococcal W outbreak despite the Prime Minister and Health Minister saying that wasn’t the case, MP for Whangarei Dr Shane Reti says.

“When the outbreak was declared in November last year a decision was made not to vaccinate 5-12 year-olds. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark repeatedly said that was because of a global shortage in vaccines.

“However, I have now uncovered evidence that in addition to the 20,000 vaccines PHARMAC purchased from its preferred provider Sanofi, it had also asked Pfizer what vaccines it had available and was told there were an additional 30,000 vaccines which would have protected all Northland children.

“Both vaccines were recommended by the expert group, they just came from different providers. PHARMAC contacted Pfizer soon after the outbreak and was told they could be available within two weeks, while the other vaccines from Sanofi would take four weeks to get to New Zealand and there would be an additional $10,000 cost for air freight.

“There are now serious questions that need to be answered about why there were repeated claims of a shortage. Did PHARMAC advise the Minister that more vaccines were available? Did the Minister do everything he could to make sure that more vaccines could be secured? Did the Prime Minister know that more vaccines were available?

“Northland parents deserve answers about why they couldn’t vaccinate their children during a deadly outbreak and why they were lied to. A seven month old baby contracted Meningitis after the vaccination programme was underway, this might not have happened if the full vaccination programme was rolled out.

“Amidst a litany of concerns we have proposals for how Meningitis outbreaks in the future can be better managed, but for now, the people of Northland have been badly let down by the Government and urgent answers are needed about why the availability of further vaccines was kept under wraps.”

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