16 Sep 2011

Northland Health seeks help to combat meningitis

7:50 pm on 16 September 2011

Northland Health says it will be calling on Maori health workers around the region to help with a vaccination programme against meningitis.

Of the six cases of the meningitis C strain in Tai Tokerau since July this year, half the cases have been young Maori. Two people have died.

Northland Health says normally, it would see only two cases a year of the killer disease.

It is embarking on a mass immunisation programme with a vaccine it says has been used safely in Britain and Europe for many years. The vaccine will be free for everyone aged from 12 months to 20 years.

Northland Health says its first priority is high school students in communities where there have already been meningitis cases, including Okaihau, Kaikohe, Taipa and Bream Bay.

It will be asking Maori health providers around the rohe (region) to help protect as many young people as possible.