Grieving mother calls for vaccine awareness

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 08/09/2012
Amanda Crook-Barker, 12, died suddenly from suspected meningococcal disease
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FAMILY'S LOSS: Amanda Crook-Barker, 12, died suddenly from meningococcal disease.

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Amanda Crook-Barker's mum assumed her daughter's meningococcal immunisation protected her from all strains.

Wellington woman Lisa Crook is calling for better public awareness, after it was confirmed yesterday her 12-year-old daughter died from Group C meningococcal disease.

The week leading up to the Evans Bay Intermediate pupil's death was just like any normal week, until she died two hours after a rash appeared.

She was understood to have been immunised with the 2004-2008 MeNZB vaccine, a drug specially manufactured to combat an outbreak of the B strain of the disease. It is no longer available and would not have protected her from Group C.

Ms Crook assumed Amanda was fully protected, and it frustrated her that she could have easily paid extra to get her the C vaccine. "If I had known, I would have had her vaccinated."

All children needed the C vaccine - she thought she did everything she knew of to protect and keep Amanda safe, she said.

"I'm upset about why are all children not immunised for this, and why is it not free? The worst thing to know is that there could have been a cure, it could have been avoided."

"I wouldn't wish this on anyone. To see what happened to Mandy, it's your worst nightmare."

Earlier this week, Ms Crook urged parents that if something was wrong, they should get medical help - she said her other children, Logan, 7, and 18-month-old Angel, would be going to the doctor often in the future.

Regional Public Health medical officer of health Dr Annette Nesdale told the school community in a letter sent home to parents that there had been seven cases of meningococcal disease in the Wellington region, of which four were of Group C.

"Some families may be wondering about the group C vaccine, there are several vaccines available against Group C disease," she said.

But Group C vaccines were not routinely offered in New Zealand. They cost about $50 to $150 plus consultation fees.

Amanda's funeral will be held in the school hall today, where her favourite music of Enigma and Coldplay will be played and her white coffin will be signed by loved ones.

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- The Dominion Post

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