Parental dilemma, really?

The outbreak of meningococcal w has left one Northland doctor conflicted over the distribution of the vaccine.

Only 10,000 doses of the meningococcal w vaccine have been sourced from overseas and distributed to Northland, the area hardest hit.

The vaccine is free for the most vulnerable, who are the under-fives, and it is also free for those most at risk of spreading it, the 13-20-year-olds. 

There is no free vaccine for kids aged between five and 12. 

Photo credit NPR

Therein lies the problem for Northland parents of kids in this age group, because they are willing to pay for the vaccine. A Northland doctor agrees, but is complaining about the cost of them of doing just that, saying it may be unaffordable for some. Unbelievable! The vaccine is in short supply.

Newsie reports. Quote.

A GP at Whangarei’s Manaia Health Andrew Miller said his practice had parents of children who didn’t qualify willing to pay the $138 for a vaccine yesterday.” End of quote.

Well, of course, parents of children aged between five and 12 will pay for the immunisation to keep their kids safe.  They’d probably cut off their right hand if it meant their kid wouldn’t die from meningococcal w.

But that’s not an option available to them and neither should the vaccine be available for them to buy until we have sufficient spare vaccine after covering all the vulnerable under-fives in other regions. Quote.

We’re probably talking in my practice in the region of 40 to 50 children in that unfunded age band this week that have been interested in coming in and paying to have it done. So we’re not talking inconsiderable numbers at all.”

He said unfortunately it was a considerable amount of money for most families to find, particularly it they had more than one child.” End of quote.

This is not a parental dilemma over whether they can afford to spend the money, because the cost is irrelevant.  

This doctor should be telling parents that Northland was fortunate indeed to get priority because of the limited quantity of vaccine. 

Any excess should go to vulnerable under-fives in the rest of New Zealand. Why not start in Gisborne and Tolaga Bay which also have a high Maori population and a low socio-economic demographic? Their under-fives are at much greater risk than Northland’s five to 12-year-olds. Quote.

That’s a significant amount of money, particularly if you’ve got more than one child and have limited funds. So it’s a really tough decision I’d imagine for a lot of parents to decide to spend that amount of money.

“I have concerns immediately that this is going to cause problems with health equity in terms of those who can afford will and those who can’t afford won’t.” End of quote.

Unless this doctor has sourced extra vaccine from elsewhere, the cost is irrelevant. He should not be selling the vaccine but reallocating it to higher risk kids elsewhere. Under-fives are free because they are at greater risk of dying from the disease. Quote.

He said it was hard to say how many people were unable to afford it as they wouldn’t be ringing the practice asking for their child to be immunised.

“I’d imagine there’s many people sitting at home very unhappy about the fact that they don’t have the opportunity to protect their children in that particular unfunded age band.” End quote.

Read my lips – there’s not enough vaccine to go around! Tell these concerned parents to be grateful for what Northland got and, if their kids show symptoms of the disease, they should bring them back to you quick smart because early diagnosis usually means a good outcome. 

Honestly, we expect people to be stupid but really, the good doctor should know better.


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