Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has confirmed the Government was offered 30,000 more vaccines to help with the Northland meningitis outbreak in 2018 – but did not take it.
Pfizer’s Anne Harris confirmed at the Health Select Committee on Wednesday that it offered the additional vaccines to the Ministry of Health in November last year, despite the ministry only purchasing 20,000 from another supplier.
“We proactively contacted the ministry because we had seen media reports of meningococcal cases in Northland,” Harris told the select committee. …
There were seven cases of Meningitis W in Northland last year and the outbreak was declared on 8 November. One teenager died from the disease in October.
A selective vaccination campaign was rolled out from December 2018 to April 2019 by the Northland District Health Board (DHB) in which 5 to 12-year-olds were excluded.
Dr Clark warned of limited vaccinations due to a global shortage. He said at the time, “There is strong international demand for the Men W vaccine, which is in short supply.”
But a letter obtained by Dr Reti sent to the Health Minister by Pfizer on 21 May revealed the ministry had been offered 30,000 vaccines.
And at select committee in June, it was revealed Pharmac – the Government’s drug-buying agency – could secure enough vaccines for a full vaccination programme, and that it wasn’t considered.
So they said there were not enough vaccines to vaccinate all kids, but there were. Instead they played Russian roulette in Northland.