'Scariest time of my life': Mum urges Kiwis to get meningococcal B vaccination

Following a rise in meningococcal cases, parents are being urged to immunise their children against the deadly disease.

Meningococcal B is the most common strain in New Zealand, but there's now a new way to protect against it.

Sara Martin is lucky to be alive after suddenly becoming ill when she was 21.

"I remember the doctor saying to me, 'You have meningococcal B, do you know what that means?'" recounts Ms Martin.

"That's the last thing I remember, and four days later I woke up and had no idea the time had passed."

She'd spent four days on life support, but made a miraculous recovery. Her mother Sheryl still gets emotional talking about it.

"It was one of the scariest times of my life, but she came through it," says Sheryl Martin.

Health officials are warning cases of meningococcal disease are on the rise.

Forty-five were recorded in 2014, up to 112 last year - and numbers have already reached 96 so far this year.

There's also been a sharp increase in the rare meningococcal W strain, with 12 cases last year, resulting in three deaths. This year, there have been 24 cases and six deaths.

While infants and teens are most at risk from meningococcal B, more than 40 percent of the W cases were in adults aged over 40.

"It's one of those really scary diseases that can appear like the flu, but within 24 hours a child can go from flu-like symptoms to death," says Andrea Brady from the Meningitis Foundation.

"One of the best things that you can do to protect your child is vaccinate them."

Sara and Sheryl Martin say don't hesitate.

"Just do it," says Sara Martin. "People just don't understand it can strike anyone."

There are vaccines against the A, C, Y, and W strains - and for B disease, there is now a new vaccine called Bexsero which has just been launched in New Zealand. 

Bexsero currently costs around $110 per dose, and is available through your GP - but the Government is considering publicly funding the vaccinations.