Two Northland children were hospitalised with meningococcal disease and a further two infants hospitalised with whooping cough. (File photo)
The surge in these potentially deadly diseases has highlighted the need for up-to-date vaccinations, with Northland having the worst vaccination rates in the country.
The meningococcal cases were from Kaipara and Whangārei, reported on August 12 and 18, said Northland Medical Officer of Health Dr Ankush Mittal.
Both were in children under five – the age group most affected by invasive meningococcal disease – and both needed hospital care, although one is now recovering at home, he said.
Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis and septicaemia.
Stuff reporter Ripu Bhatia talks about his battle with meningococcal disease.
The type the two cases have are still being identified.
In the last week in Northland, there have been six cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, across linked households in the mid-north.
Two of these cases, both infants, have been hospitalised, Mittal said.
The cases highlight a surge in whooping cough cases around the country in the last week, including another six in Waitemata and one each in Taranaki, Nelson-Marlborough and Southern, according to the latest ESR statistics.
Monthly case numbers of the disease, New Zealand-wide, were in single digits since April 2020, down from 231 cases in January 2019.
But three infants across the country have died from whooping cough in 2023.
Mittal said vaccinations are available for both these diseases.
Free meningococcal vaccines are now part of the childhood immunisation programme, for children up to 12 months, with a catch-up for children under five.
Young people aged 13 to 25 are also eligible if they live in shared accommodation, such as a hostel or residence halls.
Whooping cough vaccines are a long-standing part of the routine immunisation schedule for children and adults, he said.
The vaccine is also a critical part of the care offered in pregnancy from the second trimester onwards.
In the mid-north, a mobile vaccination van will be available in Kaikohe this week, to make vaccinations easier to access for hapū māmā and the caregivers of tamariki.
The van, Ngā Tātai Ihorangi, will be at Kaikohe New World from 11am until 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 2pm on Friday.