Surgery for baby Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman, who is seriously ill with meningococcal disease, has been postponed until the end of the week.

Her father, Perry Bisman, said the 7-month-old was now on a stronger mix of pain relief and last night received a blood transfusion.

Mr Bisman said he and his partner, Pam Cleverley, had been given the "worst-case scenario" by surgeons on Monday night.

It was possible one of Charlotte's legs would have to be amputated above the knee rather than below the knee. Exploratory surgery planned for today had been rescheduled for Friday to allow the demarcation between good and bad flesh to become more apparent, he said.

Both her legs and hands might have to be amputated.

"We are glad to have a bit of extra time. We have people around the world praying for us and sending positive thoughts. We are not particularly religious but we will take all the prayers we can get.

"We are praying for a miracle but preparing for amputation."

Charlotte contracted meningococcal disease nearly two weeks ago and is now in the Starship children's hospital high-dependency unit.

The Waiheke family made her case public to highlight the need for a vaccine.

The Ministry of Health is awaiting approval to start a $200 million nationwide vaccination campaign, which aims to vaccinate everyone under 20. Yesterday Waikato health officials warned that the vaccine might not reach all the people who need it.

Their report to the Waikato District Health Board predicted that because of the region's large area and the difficulties of reaching the high-risk Maori and Pacific Island populations, achieving that aim might be unlikely.

The ministry has allocated about $4.3 million to the board for the vaccinations, which will target about 76,000 Waikato people.

But it has not yet made clear how much the board will receive to co-ordinate the vaccination.

Last year NZ had 540 cases of meningococcal disease, resulting in 13 deaths. Waikato was slightly under the average for its population, with 42 cases and no deaths.

Danger signs

* The symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, headache, vomiting, rash, drowsiness and joint or muscle pain. Babies may refuse food or drink, cry a lot and appear sleepy and floppy.

* If your child has one or two symptoms you should see a doctor.

Herald Feature: Health

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