The Army could be called in the Northland District Health Board run dozens of meningococcal vaccine clinics.
The Government announced yesterday a free northland vaccine program as the region for the highest number of cases of MenW strain per population; reaching a Ministry of Health epidemiology threshold that signified '' an outbreak ''.
'' The only affective way to manage this outbreak is a vaccine program, '' the board's chief executive Nick Chamberlain said.
The New Zealand Defense Force has been approached in case medical teams are required to help the 'logistical feat' of running a region-wide vaccination program at short notice over three weeks before Christmas.
Defense Force dental personnel and back-up teams work with NDHB in 2014 on Exercise Wisdom Tooth, running dental clinics for 750 high-need Far North residents.
Staffing the vaccination clinics at dozens of Northland locations will also see school nurses and other health staff from their regular work for the 7th day a week program for 20,000 young children and teenagers vaccinated.
With only 20,000 vaccine doses available due to a worldwide shortage, two age groups will be targeted – the high-risk 9-month to under 5-year-olds and 13 to 19-year-olds.
Those two groups are the vulnerable, very young people who can not always be attributed to symptoms of illness and the high rate of bacteria carrying – and exchanging – teens.
Immunising those two will bring protection Where it was most necessary and has the greatest immediate effect on the disease's spread, NDHB paediatrician Ailsa Tuck said.
The NDHB is trying to get another round of doses so the middle children's age group can also be vaccinated next year.
'' We know there is going to be significant anxiety among that group, '' Tuck said.
The important health message is to be more vigilant about children's illness and seek medical attention early MenW does not present with typical meningococcal symptoms
Clinical microbiologist Dr. David Hammer said up to 20 percent of the population can carry the disease without getting sick.
Hand washing and other common hygiene practices help prevent its spread, but the only way to prevent the disease is widely spread in the vaccination.
The vaccine clinics will be held in schools and community centers, with times and places advertised in the media and social online forums from today.