13 Sep 2012

GPs struggle to keep up with demand for vaccine

9:02 pm on 13 September 2012

Doctors are struggling to keep up with demand as hundreds of parents are taking their children to be immunised against Meningococcal C.

The rush for the vaccine follows the death of 12-year-old Wellington girl Amanda Crook-Barker on 3 September from the group C strain, which is not as common as Meningococcal B but considered more deadly.

The rapid advance of symptoms in the girl's case has sparked fears among parents and many have been paying to vaccinate their children against the disease at a cost of up to $150.

Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner said there has been an influx of queries about the vaccine and some GPs have run out and have had to order more.

The Medical Association fears the $150 price tag for the Meningococcal C vaccine will hit the poorest most.

Deputy chair Mark Peterson says it is much easier for GPs in higher socio-economic areas to encourage patients to get the vaccine. However, he says it is hard to encourage someone on a low wage to spend a good portion of their income on preventative measures such as vaccinations.

From 2004 to 2008, the Government ran a vaccine campaign for Meningococcal B. However, doctors say parents should be aware this vaccine was only short-term and it is unlikely anyone will now be immunised.

The Ministry of Health won't subsidise the cost of the Meningococcal C vaccine, saying there is a cheaper $40 option and the doctor's fee will be subsidised for families with Community Service Cards.