Northland Outbreak

Shona Whitehead led a fundraising effort to raise funds for the meningococcal vaccine @ Northland’s Hikurangi Primary School.

The free vaccination programme to control the Northland outbreak of the W strain was for students under five years or between 13 and 19. Many of the school’s students weren’t eligible as most fell outside the age range of children like seven-year-old Alexis Albert, who died last year.

With the community’s help, Shona raised $20,000 – enough to vaccinate all of the school’s pupils. Meningococcal bacteria come in an alphabet soup of strains like B and C which were previously been more common in New Zealand. But since 2017, cases of the W strain have increased.

For a region where poverty affects many in over-crowded living conditions, an under or unvaccinated population provides ample opportunity for diseases like meningitis to spread.

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