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Experts never told more vaccines available

Shane Reti - MP for Whangarei

19 June 2019

The Director General of Health has today confirmed the expert group that decided which vaccination programme to roll out in Northland after a deadly outbreak of Meningococcal W was never told there were enough vaccines for all under 20s in Northland, Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti says.

“Ashley Bloomfield has told a Select Committee looking into the outbreak that the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) gave its recommendations on November 8th. The following day Pharmac confirmed it could secure enough vaccines for a full vaccination programme but the TAG wasn’t given that information. The group never even reconvened to consider it.

“The Select Committee was also told that the Ministry of Health did not have any formal advice that there was additional supply, it only had 20,000 confirmed to it by Pharmac when there were thousands more available and that’s the advice it used to roll out the limited vaccination campaign.

“The programme that went ahead excluded 5-12 year olds. A seven month old baby went on to contract the disease and this might not have happened if the full roll out had been carried out. It’s outrageous that this information was not passed on.

“Dr Bloomfield told media earlier this week that cost was a factor in deciding whether to purchase enough vaccines for all under 20s. Today he reiterated that. The dozens of emails I’ve had from angry Northland parents have asked what cost you should put on the lives of children.

“Health Minister David Clark told media on Monday that part of the reason for a reduced vaccination campaign was that there weren’t enough people to carry out the vaccinations. Today the District Health Board confirmed that was not true.

“It was also confirmed today that there are thousands of vaccines left over. These could be used for the 5-12 year olds who missed out, instead they will likely be left to expire. David Clark needs to stop making excuses and admit that the people of Northland have been failed.”


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