Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Minister Welcomes Meningococcal Vaccine Trials

31 May 2002 Media Statement
Health Minister Welcomes Meningococcal Vaccine Clinical Trials

Health Minister Annette King today welcomed the launch of clinical trials of a group B meningococcal vaccine as a solid step toward the end of an epidemic.

Seventy-five healthy adults, recruited through the health sector, are volunteering to test the vaccine, which has been developed to target the specific strain of group B meningococcal disease currently prevalent in New Zealand. The vaccine is based on a ‘parent’ vaccine already developed to combat a different strain of group B meningococcal disease in Norway.

“It’s extremely rewarding to see the meningococcal vaccine strategy reach this stage of development,” said Ms King. “The credit rests with a large number of people spanning the health sector and more will become involved as the strategy progresses.”

Ms King said the Government has committed up to $200 million to the Meningococcal Vaccine Strategy to be funded over a five-year period, with $35 million to be spent in 2002-03.

The meningococcal vaccine strategy developed by the Ministry of Health is based on a partnership model with the vaccine manufacturer, Chiron Corporation, and the University of Auckland, who are together providing the medical and technical expertise required for a complex series of clinical trials.

“This kind of partnership is a unique and is expected to reap positive benefits for all New Zealanders. I wish them well and look forward to regular progress reports over the following months,” said Ms King.

Clinical trials of the group B meningococcal vaccine are expected to continue for the next 18 months. Each successive trial will progress as ethics and regulatory approvals are given. Further approvals are then required before the vaccine can be licensed for distribution.

“All going well we anticipate a mass vaccination campaign targeting all under 20-year olds to begin in 2004,” said Ms King. “New Zealanders are dying from this disease. I encourage all New Zealanders to give the strategy, including clinical trials, their full support.”


Group B meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria that can lead to septicemia (commonly known as blood poisoning), meningitis (swelling of the brain) or a combination of both. It affects all age and ethnic groups at alarming rates in New Zealand, however, the rates of disease in Mäori and Pacific peoples are extraordinarily high, especially in young children.

Meningococcal disease has been experienced in epidemic proportions in New Zealand since 1991. Approximately 90% of cases are caused by a specific strain of group B meningococcal disease, for which there is currently no commercial vaccine available. The epidemic is expected to last at least a further 10 years without a vaccine-based health intervention.

Last year (2001) the epidemic peaked with 650 confirmed cases. 26 people died as a result while up to 20% were left with some degree of disability – brain damage, deafness, and loss of limbs or damaged skin requiring extensive skin grafts.

This epidemic has cost New Zealand society $630 million to date, with direct costs to the health sector estimated at $300 million. This does not include the human costs associated with death and loss of quality of life for people affected by meningococcal disease. Ongoing costs are estimated at $75 million per year.

The New Zealand Government has committed up to $200 million over five years to the Meningococcal Vaccine Strategy. This money will pay for a programme that includes vaccine development, clinical trials and manufacture, administration, marketing and distribution. Further information is available at

Meningococcal Disease – Early Treatment Saves Lives! Until a vaccine is widely available, people still need to be aware of the symptoms and to seek medical treatment early.

Don't wait - take action: see a doctor if you or your child is sick.
If your child is sick - check often.
Your child may be seriously ill if they:
 Have a fever
 Refuse drink or food
 Are sleepy or floppy - or harder to wake
 Vomit
 Are crying or unsettled
 Have a rash/spots
 Have a headache.
Doctors' visits are usually free for children under six.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease - though those at greatest risk are children under five and young adults.
If your child gets worse - take them straight back to the doctor.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Dealing Crackdown, Addiction Support: Government Action On Synthetics

The NZ Drug Foundation has welcomed the Government’s response to synthetic drug deaths. The response strikes a balance between giving law enforcement the tools they need to target criminal networks and changing drug law to make it easier for people to access help when they need it. More>>


Strategy Committee Unanimous: Wellington To Forge Ahead With Convention Centre

The three-storey Cable Street building, with around 18,000-square metres of floor space, will comfortably be able to host 1500 people for conventions. It includes a 1651sq m exhibition area that will attract international exhibitions too big for nearby Te Papa and provide an always-changing visitor attraction. More>>


Surveying The Surveillance: First IGIS Review Of Warrants Under New Act

The report sets out the Inspector-General’s interpretation of the new warrant provisions under the ISA and her expectations of the GCSB and NZSIS when they prepare warrant applications. More>>

SSC: 2018 Public Service Workforce Data Published

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has published the 2018 Our People, Public Service Workforce Data , which shows the Public Service is making significant progress in important areas. More>>


Sinking Cap: Auctions, Permanent Forests, Added To ETS

The move to auctions, signalled in an August consultation paper, will help put a cap on the number of emission units available over time. Annual announcements, looking forward five years, will help provide certainty for scheme participants, she said. More>>


Joint Select Committee Report: Achieving Smokefree 2025

In a historic first for select committees, the Māori Affairs Committee and the Health Committee presented their joint report on achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal to the House on Tuesday, 11 December 2018. More>>

"Shared Interests And Democratic Values": Peters To Visit USA

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will travel to Washington D.C. for talks with US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and other senior members of the US Administration. More>>




InfoPages News Channels