Yesterday, two of my daughters and their respective (five) children gathered together with my wife and I to celebrate a pre-budget announcement from the Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson. He was in Dunedin for a regional (and small) Labour Party conference, and brought his press secretary with him – a delightful lady who took to our grandchildren with enthusiasm.
TVNZ was there, and TV3, and the ODT reporter came along too. As well as these, there was a woman from the Ministry of Health, and Fiona Colbert, the general manager of the Meningitis Trust. I’ve forgotten some of these people’s names, since it was quite distracting having to hold my latest granddaughter some of the time, or play with other grandchildren at other times.
Why were we involved? Because last year, one of my grandchildren got pneumococcal meningitis, and went through a terrible time of fits, and some weeks in hospital. He gave us all an awful fright, since at one point we thought we were going to lose him. We’re one of the very few blessed families in this respect, not only because we didn’t lose him, but because he didn’t get any of the possible after-effects of the disease, such as deafness, blindness, or the loss of limbs.
And what was Pete Hodgson’s announcement? That after considerable politicking on the Trust’s side, the Government had decided to fund Prevenar inoculations to try and prevent this disease from damaging other lives. They’re spending $68 million on the job from 2008 in order to offer free immunisation to all new-borns.
My daughter appeared on the National News last night, on two channels, and some of the other members of the family were also visible, including the grandchild himself, of course. TVNZ came up to the house and did some filming here, but only a fragment of it made it onto the news – as you’d expect.