Worried parents are swamping doctors with requests to have their children immunised from the deadly Meningococcal C disease after a Wellington schoolgirl died from the illness shortly after developing a rash.
Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner says since the death of Wellington 12-year-old Amanda Crook-Barker earlier this month doctors and nurses have reported a spike in the number of vaccines being given to teenagers and children.
"People get anxious when they hear stories like this so I think it's natural anxiety and we've seen it before when we've had some bad stories from meningococcal because it's a very scary disease," Dr Turner told NZ Newswire.
"It's the speed with which people deteriorate which makes it very scary and it seems like it comes out of the blue even with healthy people."
The disease is more likely to affect infants, adolescents, the elderly, those who are already sick and those who live in crowded living conditions.
Vaccines for Meningococcal C aren't cheap, costing up to $100, and Dr Turner says doctors had reported some parents applying for Work and Income New Zealand grants to fit the bill.
Meningococcal C, which killed 13 people last year, is the most deadly type of meningococcal disease in New Zealand.
There is no vaccine for Meningococcal B but one is likely to be on the market in the next few years.
Dr Turner recommends parents with young children discuss the option of immunisation, but stressed that contracting the disease is rare.
Meningococcal disease has flu-like symptoms that quickly get worse - sometimes in a matter of hours or within two to three days.Symptoms may include a fever, confusion, sleepiness, dislike of bright lights, stiff neck, joint pain and a rash. Children and babies may also refuse feeds, can be floppy and vomit.
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