Meningococcal W information release

Publication date: 28 February 2019

Worldwide, there has been a trend of increasing rates of meningococcal W (MenW). The Ministry of Health, the Institute for Environmental Science and Research (ESR), district health boards (DHBs) and clinical experts have been closely monitoring any cases in New Zealand.

In late October, the Ministry convened a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which met in November because there was growing concern about the rising number of MenW cases in the Northland region.

The TAG decided the number of cases in Northland met the criteria for a community outbreak, and that a vaccination programme should be implemented for Northland. PHARMAC liaised with suppliers of the vaccine and managed to procure 20,000 doses of vaccine.

On 26 November 2018, the Minister of Health announced a targeted vaccination programme to combat the community outbreak of MenW in Northland. A targeted vaccination programme was implemented as the most effective way to manage the outbreak with the amount of vaccine available.

The vaccination programme targets Northland residents who are aged 9 months to four years (inclusive), and those aged 13 to 19 years (inclusive) because vaccinating these two age groups is considered to be the best way to reduce the spread of meningococcal disease across the entire Northland community.

The vaccination programme, run by Northland DHB, commenced on 5 December 2018 with clinics in high schools and communities across Northland. The intensive response to the MenW ended on 22 February. The campaign was also supported by the delivery of vaccines through general practices, selected pharmacies, Māori health providers and mobile clinics.  Northland DHB is continuing to hold outbreak vaccination clinics in secondary schools until 8 March. Some general practices and pharmacies will have publicly funded available and will offer a vaccination service in the coming weeks.

Due to the high levels of public interest in the outbreak and the response to the outbreak, the Ministry is releasing some key documents.

Key documents

Some of these documents have been redacted in line with sections 9(2)(a), 9(2)(j), 9(2)(ba)(i) and 9(2)(f)(iv) of the Official Information Act 1982.

More information

The recommendations from the Technical Advisory Group are available at Meningococcal on Te Whatu Ora’s website.

Further information on the definition of a community outbreak is available at Neisseria meningitidis invasive disease.

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