Meningococcal disease in young people

Date Published: 
Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Nikki Turner discusses meningococcal disease in NZ’s young people. The burden of disease, who gets sick and why. Immunisation will be discussed in depth.



  • 00:01 Intro   
  • 01:00 How many young people are affected each year in NZ?
  • 03:53 How does one get Meningococcal disease?
  • 04:18 What populations are at the greatest risk
  • 06:05 What are the symptoms and do they vary in different age groups?
  • 07:32 What is the treatment?
  • 08:53 How serious is this disease - what are the outcomes?
  • 09:47 How can we prevent it?
  • 10:39 What vaccinations are available in NZ and what strains are they effective against?
  • 13:02 How effective are the vaccinations?
  • 15:22 Which groups of young people should we target?
  • 18:41 How do we space vaccinations?
  • 21:05 How does the trajectory of the disease change by being vaccinated?
  • 22:02 How long does protection last?
  • 23:42 Take-home messages


Take-home messages

  • Meningococcal disease is a rare but very important disease, that comes on suddenly, can masquerade as other illnesses and can be devastating if not treated rapidly.
  • It is most common in infancy, young children and adolescents/young adults and is seen more in Pacific and Maori children.
  • Treat early on suspicion with antibiotics, do not delay.
  • The bacterium is commonly carried in the nasopharynx, particularly of adolescents and young adults and only occasionally becomes invasive.  The risk of invasive disease is increased with certain medical conditions, smoking, binge drinking, and crowded housing conditions.
  • NZ does not have a universal programme, only a programme targeted at high-risk medical conditions and some adolescents/young adults in close living quarters.
  • There are two sorts of vaccines – conjugates against A,C,Y and W and recombinant Group B. Both are needed to be offered for the best protection.
  • A universal programme is the best way to protect our children and young adults.  Currently, for most, we only have private market vaccines. This creates a significant equity barrier to those who are unaware or cannot afford them.





Nikki Turner
Academic General Practitioner

Nikki Turner is an academic General Practitioner and an Associate Professor in the Department of General Practice and Primary Care, University of Auckland. She works part-time as a General Practitioner at NUHS Broadway Clinic in Wellington. Her roles include Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) at the University of Auckland.


This episode is supported by an educational grant from GSK.

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This presentation is intended for qualified health practitioners professional development and should not be relied upon for any other purpose. Any opinions offered are those of the presenter or other speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of Goodfellow Unit.