About $1.6 million worth of meningitis vaccines are set to go waste and the Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand says it's horrified.
Foundation spokesman Gerard Rushton said he was shocked to hear the vaccines would go to waste.
"That amounts to over 17,000 doses – which could have been given to an equivalent number of teenagers and infants – who are most at-risk."
In 2017 he alongside his wife Claire lost their daughter Courtenay to meningitis.
Rushton said the foundation is unsure why the vaccines have gone unused but said it could be people were unaware of the illness.
"If the foundation had known the vaccines were about to expire, we would have actively engaged in a campaign to support the Government in making sure these life-saving vaccines wouldn't be wasted".
During 2020 and 2021, Rushton said at least five people including three children under 5 died from meningococcal meningitis.
"Those vaccines may well have prevented those tragic deaths – that's heartbreaking for us, who know only too well what it's like to lose a loved one to this disease."
Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacteria neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus, which is transmitted through close personal contact including sneezing, sharing drinks, coughing and kissing.
Infection can quickly cause meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain), septicaemia (blood infection) and pneumonia.
Different vaccines are needed to protect against the most common types of meningococcal disease - one to protect against A, C, W and Y strains, and another to protect against meningococcal group B disease.
The number of cases of invasive meningococcal disease had increased since 2014, with 139 cases and 10 deaths in 2019. However, case numbers dropped to 35 in 2020, which the Ministry of Health believed was probably due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Rushton said the foundation would like to see meningococcal vaccines added to New Zealand's funded vaccination programme.
Last week, a petition was taken to Parliament signed by more than 6000 Kiwis, seeking funding for all 16-year-olds to get both of the meningococcal vaccines.