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Northland children betrayed as vaccines expire

The Health Select Committee this week confirmed key aspects of the Meningitis debacle in Northland, highlighting the Government’s negligence, MP for Whangarei Dr Shane Reti says.

“The situation has now boiled down to three points. First, it was revealed Health Minister David Clark and the Director General of Health knew there were extra vaccines available before the campaign was signed off.

“This is despite the Health Minister and the Prime Minister claiming they only found out about the extra vaccines last month. After questioning, the Minister came clean to media and confirmed he knew of the extra available vaccines back in November.

“Second, neither Mr Clark nor the Director General of Health told Ministry officials who formed the vaccination campaign that extra vaccines were available. The Director of Public Health confirmed they rolled out the campaign not knowing there were extra vaccines available.

“Third, the experts who made the initial campaign recommendations would have vaccinated all children if there had been extra vaccines. A public health manager confirmed in OIA documents that the expert group originally recommended vaccinating all children under 20, but because of the limited vaccine availability they changed to a targeted campaign.

“All Northland children could have been vaccinated if the expert group had been told of the extra vaccines. Northland children have been betrayed, Ministry management have been betrayed and the Prime Minister has been betrayed

“The thousands of vaccines not taken up during the campaign, and an extra 5000 Pfizer vaccines also purchased, now sit in storage slowly expiring. Northland has already had one new case of MenW this year, and the coldest part of winter and the highest Meningitis risk is still to arrive.

“The children of Northland should be vaccinated before the vaccines expire. The Government should extend the vaccination campaign and vaccinate the 20,000 children who have missed out.”

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