Parents are being urged to have their children vaccinated after a seven-month-old baby in Northland baby has been diagnosed with meningococcal W.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Jose Ortega Benito says it is vital that all nine-months to under five years and 13 to under 20-year-olds are vaccinated.
“We now know that meningococcal W is still circulating in our community and stress again how important it is that our children are protected.”
Children under five are being targeted because it is the population that is generally most affected by meningococcal disease. The vaccine cannot be given to babies under 9 months.
Vaccinating 13 to under 20-year-olds is also important because it is the age group that generally carries the bacterium that causes the disease.
“Even if they have no symptoms, carriers can infect those around them. Vaccinating this age group will lower the number of carriers in Northland and stop the spread of meningococcal disease across the entire community,” says Benito.
A total of 14,001 children in Northland have recently been vaccinated against meningococcal W through an outbreak campaign.
However, a further 8,706 children are eligible to take advantage of the free vaccine in Northland.
There are some areas in Northland, such as the Hokianga, where only 50 percent of the eligible children are immunised.
“If we don’t increase the number of eligible children vaccinated we are at risk of another outbreak,” says Benito.
The Northland District Health Board is working closely with Hokianga Health to offer community clinics in that area.
Most general practices across Northland and a pharmacy in Whangarei, Kerikeri and Kaitaia are offering free meningococcal W vaccination to eligible children.
- There are 13 different types of meningococcus, but most infections in Australia are caused by types B and W.
- Symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, rash, drowsiness or irritability
- It is important to seek medical help immediately if you or your child has any of the symptoms of meningococcal disease
- Contact your local hospital, GP or call Healthline 0800 611 116.