Australia

$52 million to deliver free meningococcal vaccine to teens in region

TEENAGERS across the region will soon be able to receive a free vaccination against meningococcal thanks to a $52 million Federal Government investment.

More than one million teenagers will receive the free meningococcal A, C, W and Y vaccine, over the next four years.

It will be added to the National Immunisation Program from April 2019 and be provided to students aged 14 to 16 years under a school-based program.

Adolescents aged 15 to 19 years of age, who have not already received the vaccine in school, will be able to receive the vaccine through an ongoing GP based catch up program.

Meningococcal is a rare but very serious infection that occurs when meningococcal bacteria from the throat or nose invades the body.

Infections can develop quickly and can cause serious illness or death.

In recent years we have unfortunately seen a rise in the number of invasive meningococcal disease cases in Australia.

Calare MP Andrew Gee

In 2017, there were 382 cases reported nationally, compared with 252 cases in 2016 and 182 cases in 2015.

Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee praised the initiative and said it would make a difference across Australia.

“In recent years we have unfortunately seen a rise in the number of invasive meningococcal disease cases in Australia,” he said.

“Deaths associated with meningococcal disease have also risen, with 28 deaths in 2017, compared with 11 deaths in 2016 and 12 deaths in 2015.”

The announcement follows a recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to list the meningococcal A, C, W and Y vaccine for adolescents.

“Vaccination is an effective and safe tool to prevent the spread of many diseases that cause hospitalisation, serious ongoing health conditions and sometimes death,” Mr Gee said.

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