Three-year-old Isabella protected against meningococcal disease

By RENEE KIRIONA

Three-year-old Isabella Cowie sits on her living room floor playing with her crayons, safe from the killer disease that has become a nightmare for parents around the country.

Isabella, from Mt Eden, has been pricked and prodded for 12 months as part of a trial for the meningococcal B vaccine, which last week was approved for use in New Zealand.

Yesterday, as her mother, Louise Richardson, watched her play, she hoped that other parents would dismiss any fears they might have about getting their children immunised.

"There's a lot of misinformation and scaremongering going on," she said.

"Some people are saying that parents shouldn't get their kids immunised because the vaccine hasn't been properly researched, but that is total nonsense."

The only side-effects Isabella suffered during the trial were irritation and redness in the area on her thigh where the needle was administered, Ms Richardson said.

The minor side-effects were a small price to pay for a vaccine that could save her daughter's life.

Although the vaccine has come too late to save the limbs of 7-month-old Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman and 10-month-old Sakiusa "Junior" Uluvula, their parents have welcomed it.

Charlotte's father, Perry Bisman, said his daughter's condition had been deteriorating and her morphine doses increased.

He was angry at statements that the disease could be attributed to poverty and children not getting enough vitamins.

"If I had my way, I would take some of those critics into Charlotte's room so they can see what this disease is like," Mr Bisman said. "I wonder then if they would tell me that more vitamins would work."

Junior's mother, Tima, advised parents to get their children immunised.

"Parents would be fools not to get their children done. My advice is to get it done but to continue looking out for the symptoms."

Both children, who have had limb amputations, will be back in theatre tomorrow. Surgeons plan to take skin from Charlotte's torso and back for skin grafting on her thigh, upper arms and rear. Junior was to have a check-up and a dressing change.

Herald Feature: Meningococcal Disease

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