Experts in science and medicine will focus on New Zealand's Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme today and tomorrow at an Immunisation Conference in Rotorua.
The immunisation programme aims to stop New Zealand's devastating epidemic of the fast-moving and potentially deadly meningococcal B disease.
Meningococcal Vaccine Strategy director Jane O'Hallahan said the conference was an opportunity to celebrate the early success of the immunisation programme, report on results and plan the way forward.
"We have just completed week eight of the immunisation programme and some 80,000 children and young people have received their first dose. We're delighted with this response. It's a tremendous effort and a credit to all the doctors, nurses and others involved in the Counties Manukau region.
"The Really Active Immunisation Conference is also an opportunity for the scientific and medical community to consider in-depth the results of the vaccine's clinical trials, that were conducted prior to the licensure of the vaccine, and the planning for the rest of the programme.
"No-one is under-estimating the enormity of the task ahead as we aim to immunise 1.1 million children and young people in New Zealand against this devastating disease.
"It is fitting that Perry Bisman, the father of "Baby Charlotte" Lucy Cleverley-Bisman, opens the conference. Charlotte and all the others like her, who have suffered from this disease, are the reason we are undertaking this immunisation programme. This vaccine is our best way to prevent that type of pain and suffering.
"We are delighted that international experts in meningococcal disease and immunisation are able to attend the conference.
"Planning for this immunisation programme has involved a huge national and international team effort. We have drawn on expertise from around the globe and it is pleasing to have some of these people together in New Zealand to evaluate how we are going and examine the very real challenges ahead as we roll out the vaccine throughout the country.