Out­break cuts sup­ply of vac­cine

Bay par­ents re­as­sured after cases in North

Bay of Plenty Times - - Local News - Amy Di­a­mond

An out­break of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease in North­land has some Bay of Plenty par­ents wor­ried for their own chil­dren, but health of­fi­cials say there is no change to vac­ci­na­tion rec­om­men­da­tions lo­cally.

Some Bay of Plenty med­i­cal cen­tres had seen an in­crease in peo­ple in­quir­ing about get­ting their chil­dren im­mu­nised against MenW, the strain of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease that had killed six peo­ple na­tion­wide.

The Min­istry of Health had re­sponded to the out­break in North­land with a three-week tar­geted vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme for chil­dren.

The pro­gramme meant stocks were low in other parts of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the Bay of Plenty.

Pa­pamoa Pines Med­i­cal Cen­tre travel nurse Jessie Water­house said there were two vac­cines avail­able in the Bay of Plenty that pro­tected against MenW. The vac­cines would also pro­tect against other meningo­coc­cal groups known as A, C and Y.

How­ever, a sub­stan­tial amount of stock for this vac­ci­na­tion had been sent into the North­land re­gion as it was the area of higher risk at this point of time, Water­house said. ● Pa­tients pre or post-splenec­tomy or with func­tional as­ple­nia

● ● HSCT (bone mar­row trans­plant) pa­tients

● ● Close con­tacts of meningo­coc­cal cases

“This is con­se­quently caus­ing a short­age of meningo­coc­cal vac­cines for other ar­eas in NZ in­clud­ing the Bay of Plenty,” she said.

Water­house said there had been many in­quiries about MenW since the out­break, usu­ally a cou­ple of queries per day. About 15 to 20 peo­ple had been given the vac­ci­na­tion in the past few weeks.

“We have thank­fully been able to pro­vide vac­ci­na­tions to those re­quest­ing to have it,” she said.

Dr Luke Brad­ford, GP at Fifth Av­enue Fam­ily Prac­tice and cochair­man at the Western Bay of Plenty Pri­mary Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, said there was a sup­ply is­sue with the Me­n­ac­tra vac­cine lo­cally as stock was be­ing di­verted north, but the most im­por­tant thing was for the North­land out­break to be con­tained.

“We know herd im­mu­nity lim­its spread very well,” Brad­ford said.

He said about 20 in­quiries and book­ings had been made for vac­ci­na­tions against MenW in the past few weeks.

Brad­ford said the med­i­cal cen­tre was able to get more vac­cines on a case-by-case ba­sis.

He said the med­i­cal cen­tre usu­ally kept Me­n­ac­tra back for univer­sity stu­dents who were go­ing into shared ac­com­mo­da­tion in Fe­bru­ary, and there was some con­cern about sup­ply­ing the vac­cine to those stu­dents in the com­ing months.

“The guid­ance we have from pub­lic health and the min­istry is to re­as­sure at this point though we will vac­ci­nate if and when we can get stock on re­quest.”

Tau­ranga mum-of-two Kather­ine Whit­taker said mixed mes­sages ini­tially left her un­sure on whether or not to im­mu­nise her young chil­dren from MenW.

Last month she rang Health­line to get ad­vice on vac­ci­nat­ing her two chil­dren, aged 15 months and 3 years old.

“I was told new doses of the vac­cine were avail­able and they were ad­vis­ing chil­dren un­der 5 to go get im­mu­nised if pos­si­ble,” Whit­taker said.

She then rang her GP and was told the vac­ci­na­tion was not nec­es­sary and no stocks were avail­able.

Since then, Whit­taker had been in touch with Health­line again who said get­ting the vac­cine was not nec­es­sary but to stay vig­i­lant for the signs of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease.

Whit­taker said these mixed mes­sages had left her con­fused and wor­ried for her chil­dren.

“As a par­ent, you just want to be given a clear mes­sage,” she said.

The Min­istry of Health said there had been an in­creas­ing num­ber of fam­i­lies re­quest­ing meningo­coc­cal vac­ci­na­tions but out­side North­land the rec­om­mended sched­ule should con­tinue to be fol­lowed.

Med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health for Toi Te Ora, Dr Jim Miller, said there was no meningo­coc­cal dis­ease out­break across the Bay of Plenty re­gion.

The num­ber of re­ported cases of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease across the re­gion re­mained within the ex­pected range and three cases of MenW had been re­ported this year.

The most re­cent case of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease in the re­gion was in Septem­ber, he said.

Photo / File

Jim Miller, med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health for Toi Te Ora Pub­lic Health, said there was not a meningo­coc­cal dis­ease out­break across the Bay of Plenty or Lakes Dis­trict Health Board ar­eas.

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