More children who are ineligible for Government-funded meningococcal W vaccinations will be able to get the jabs for free after a Whangārei community's fundraising campaign reached its original $20,000 goal.

Last month Shona Whitehead started the Hikurangi community's campaign to raise funds so children at Hikurangi School who are ineligible for free vaccinations because they are aged 5 to 12 - the age group not currently being funded - could be immunised before winter.

The original goal was to raise $20,000 - based on the fact there was around 200 children at Hikurangi School within that 5 to 12 group - but after further research the number of vaccines required was revised to about 170.

So when donations reached nearly $18,000 the fundraising group decided they would be able to go ahead with the vaccinations.


However, after Whitehead appeared on television to talk about the campaign a woman donated $2000, taking the total amount fundraised to $20,000.

"It was a sigh of relief. I was very emotional because I'd completed it. I honestly never expected to reach the goal in that amount of time," she said.

Whitehead said it means more children can now be vaccinated and if there is an excess of vaccines after Hikurangi School, they will look at the possibility of offering it to a small school.

Last Wednesday, following the $20,000 goal being met, consent forms were sent to parents at Hikurangi School and the next day more than 100 were returned, all consenting to the vaccine.

Since the school holidays have started even more have been handed directly to Whitehead.

"It shows confirmation that parents are wanting to protect their children from meningococcal," she said.

Three Northland deaths from the meningococcal W strain prompted a mass vaccination campaign by Northland District Health Board (NDHB).

Two age groups were eligible for free immunisations - vulnerable young children aged from 9 months to under 5 years, and 13 to 20-year-olds which is the cohort who spread the disease the most.


Whitehead launched the fundraiser after discovering most of the young people in her Hikurangi community group had not been vaccinated against the deadly meningococcal strain because they were ineligible for free immunisations.

"It was mainly because parents with multiple children couldn't afford it. That's who it really affects. It's high cost."

It was also important as the community were on high alert after 7-year-old local girl Alexis Albert died of meningococcal W last year.

Whitehead said Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti had been supportive and had offered to get the vaccines at absolute cost - about $90 - and also do the vaccinations himself.

She said the vaccinations will happen at the school next term.