An online petition in Northland calling for a pre-teen age group to receive free vaccination has attracted 502 signatures and is before a Parliamentary select committee.

Three weeks ago, Whangārei MP Dr Shane Reti and Northland MP Matt King launched the petition in a bid to urge the Ministry of Health to extend the meningococcal W vaccines to 5 to 12-year-olds.

Currently, only children aged up to 4 and between 13 and 20 years old are eligible for free vaccines but the two MPs believe everyone up to 20 should be covered.

The petition also calls on Parliament to investigate all aspects of the meningitis outbreak in Northland that has claimed two lives.


Dr Reti said the petition was presented to Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard on Wednesday before it was allocated to the health committee.

The Whangārei MP is the committee's deputy chair.

He said the committee may decide to seek the views of health experts and public submissions before its recommendation was reported back to Parliament.

Dr Reti said the number of signatories to their petition was above expectation.

"We in the Health Committee have accepted petitions with way less signatures. Anything over 100 or 200 is good so I am happy that many people took part.

"Online access in parts of Northland could be challenging and combined with the fact that the petition ran for two weeks only, I think it's a good result and it shows people are concerned about this issue."

He hoped the health committee can make quick progress so ineligible pre teenagers were also protected from the deadly disease, especially during winter when meningitis peaked.

King said a lot of people were coming forward saying they could not afford the cost of vaccinating their children and the Government should act.


"Make it available for every teenager. Put people's mind at rest because we're not talking a massive amount of money here," he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out the possibility of the Government extending free meningitis vaccines to children between 5 and 12 years in Northland for now.