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Northland children missing out on meningitis vaccines

Northland children missing out on meningitis vaccines

National’s MP for Whangarei, Shane Reti says that despite the Ministry of Health claiming vaccine supply as the reason for targeting specific age groups, thousands have been available through an Auckland supplier while ineligible children in Northland miss out.

“As tens of thousands of holidaymakers continue to flood into Northland’s Meningitis outbreak area over the summer it is concerning that the Government’s vaccination campaign is limited by vaccine stocks when several thousand vaccines were available to GPs a few weeks ago, with the first lot selling out in half a day.

“New batches of vaccines have continued arriving and even today GPs can privately purchase the same vaccine the Northland campaign is using. Why are there meningitis vaccines available for private purchase in Auckland today but we are told there are no more vaccines for children in the Northland outbreak region?

“Health Minister David Clark and the Ministry of Health avoided one of the Technical Advisory Group’s recommendations to vaccinate everyone under 20 years. The actual campaign sees Northland children between five and 12 years miss out on the vaccine, concerning many parents.

“Northlanders are being betrayed by the Minister who says their children can’t have vaccines because they are not available, when in fact thousands are being legitimately sold through a vaccine supplier in Auckland.

“It’s not good enough for the Minister to hide behind the advisory group’s recommendation of a targeted vaccination coverage when one of the other recommendations was also universal coverage for everyone under 20 years. You don’t get to pick who gets meningitis and who doesn’t, I’ve seen it before in as a GP Northland.

“It is unclear if the smaller vaccination group was selected based on price. If that’s the case the Minister needs to come clean on what the costs were for a targeted compared with a universal Meningitis campaign in Northland.

“Pharmac and the Ministry should have costed out the alternatives, and they now need to put that information out for scrutiny and not hide behind a committee or commercial sensitivities.

“I challenge the Minister to fix this delayed and limited campaign by acquiring existing meningitis vaccines and making it available to everyone in Northland under 20 years old.”

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