With just three weeks left of the Northland outbreak meningococcal W campaign clinics in secondary schools are being established to ensure all eligible 13 to under 20 year olds have the chance to be vaccinated.
“The outbreak campaign was launched just three weeks before Christmas so many schools had already broken up for the holidays,” Medical Officer of Health Dr Jose Ortega Benito said.
“We really want parents and caregivers to take advantage of the free meningococcal W outbreak campaign so that our Northland children are better protected from this deadly disease.”
In the past two weeks, two new cases of invasive meningococcal disease were reported in Auckland and Canterbury and with the usual increase in cases in winter it is vital that our Northland community is better protected. As of 3 February 11,797 children had been vaccinated against meningococcal W.
“Sadly we had three deaths in Northland last year and therefore we are really focused on ensuring that every single eligible Northland child (22,707) is given the opportunity to be protected.
Vaccinating 13 to under 20-year-olds is really important because this 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.”
Phase Three of the outbreak vaccination campaign is underway with pharmacy, general practice, targeted Māori Provider outreach and secondary school-based clinics being offered until 22 February.
And, the DHB is offering the chance to win five $200 phone data vouchers as incentive for all children to return a signed consent form and receive the vaccination over the next two weeks.
“Parents and caregivers please take action now while you still can,” Dr Benito urges.
“Northland could be the safest place in New Zealand from meningococcal W if we get high enough levels of coverage from the outbreak campaign," he said.
All clinic information is published on the Northland DHB website and Facebook page.
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.
For more information go to the DHB website: www.northlanddhb.org.nz(external link)
For further information, please contact:
Paula Martin, Communications Officer
Phone 09 4304101 ext. 60519