Parents rush to get kids immunised after girl's death
BRONWYN TORRIE AND JODY O'CALLAGHAN
There has been a rush of children being immunised against meningococcal disease after the death of Wellington schoolgirl Amanda Crook-Barker.
Central Wellington GP Chris Kalderimis said more parents were getting their children vaccinated against the unpredictable and deadly disease this week.
"It's scared a lot of parents. Certainly we've had more inquiries about it, people talking about it, and it's certainly raised the level of consciousness."
Amanda, 12, of Miramar, died suddenly on Monday, just two hours after a rash appeared.
A funeral service will be held at Evans Bay Intermediate School tomorrow morning. Fellow pupils raised about $3000 to help with the funeral costs and an extra $1000 was donated from people outside the school community.
Her mum, Lisa Crook, has chosen Amanda's favourite music from Enigma and Coldplay for the service and picked a white coffin that can be covered in messages from loved ones.
Amanda had been vaccinated against the disease, probably with the vaccine used between 2004 and 2011 to control the outbreak of a unique New Zealand B strain. Test results will confirm next week which bacteria strain killed her.
The vaccines available cost between $40 and $100 and protect only against certain strains of meningococcal disease, such as A, C, Y and W135.
There was no vaccine available against meningococcal B in New Zealand, Immunisation Advisory Centre doctor Nikki Turner said.
"There is a B vaccine coming on to the world market and it could be in New Zealand in the next couple of years."
When to vaccinate was unclear. "If you're vaccinated as an infant, you're not going to have protection when you're a teenager."
Porirua GP Bryan Betty said his practice had not seen an increase in children being vaccinated, but that was because it was out of the financial reach of parents in the Cannons Creek community. "Our families can't afford it. Generally it's not an option."
Though meningococcal disease was sporadic and unpredictable, it was incredibly rare, Dr Betty said.
The most important thing families and doctors could do was look out for signs that flu or colds could be something more sinister.
It could affect anyone, although it was more common in children under the age of 5, teenagers, and young adults.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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