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The Government’s slow response to the Northland Meningitis outbreak has been underlined again in a report that shows that the Technical Advisory Group wasn’t convened until three weeks after outbreak status was reached, MP for Whangarei Dr Shane Reti says.

“The minutes of the Technical Advisory Group, obtained by National, suggest that an outbreak was technically reached around October 14 but the group was not convened until three weeks later on November 8.

“This delay completely contradicts the Minister’s repeated assurances that the response was ‘swift’ – there is nothing swift about it.

“What’s worse is that after the three-week delay in convening the group to confirm the outbreak and trigger the response, the meeting itself was carried out by a teleconference which took just an hour over a lunchtime.

“It staggering that the group were not convened earlier to confirm the outbreak and get on with the response – especially considering all it took was a phone call.

“Those three weeks would have been the difference between rolling out the immunisation campaign at schools and vaccinating children while they were still accessible. Instead, the vaccination programme was stalled and children have missed their vaccinations as a result.

“The Minister needs to come clean on the three-week delay to convene this advisory group.

“This has been a late and delayed response from the start, given the seven warning flags from May this year. The Minister must outline the timeline of events and tell the public why he and his Ministry wasted valuable time to respond to this deadly outbreak.”

Meningococcal W Technical Advisory Group meeting summary available here.

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