All Western Australian Children Aged 1-4 Years To Have Free ACWY Vaccine

All Western Australian Children Aged 1-4 Years To Have Free ACWY Vaccine

Western Australia Minister for Health Roger Cook

Western Australia Again Leads The Way With Meningococcal Disease Vaccinations

Victor P Taffa

  • Western Australia again leads the nation to protect vulnerable community members from meningococcal disease
  • Meningococcal disease case numbers in Western Australia doubled between 2017 and 2016
  • Federal Government’s lack of action and inability to take responsibility is risking lives

In an Australian-first, the McGowan Government today announced all Western Australian children aged 1-4 years will have access to a free meningococcal ACWY vaccine.

“In 2017, 6 cases of meningococcal disease in Western Australia resulted in death. My heart goes out to the families of those affected. This disease can be prevented through vaccination.” Minister for Health Roger Cook said.

“Providing vaccines to protect public health is a Commonwealth responsibility yet they have remained idle on this issue for too long leaving the State Government to take control yet again on meningococcal vaccinations.”

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, but sometimes life-threatening illness. At any one time, about 10 % of healthy people carry meningococcal bacteria harmlessly in their nose or throat, and do not become ill.

Rarely, however, a small proportion of people will develop serious invasive infections of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain. Last year Western Australia had 46 cases of meningococcal disease, 6 of which were fatal. The highest attack rate occurred among children younger than 5 years of age.

To reduce the incidence of meningococcal disease among this vulnerable age group, a free vaccine will be available throughout 2018. Funding of this vaccine (called MenACWY) will cost the State $5.7 Million.

Taking action and responsibility at a State level has been necessary as the Federal Government has so far failed to include the MenACWY vaccine as part of the National Immunisation Program.

Parents should contact their local GP or Child Health Clinic to schedule an appointment for their child to receive the vaccine.

State is currently funding 2 other meningococcal ACWY vaccination programs, 1 for teenagers in Year 10 in 2018 and 1 for Aboriginal communities within regional Western Australia.

Note:

  • MenACWY vaccination program will not prevent cases caused by meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) strains, so some MenB infections may still occur.
  • MenB illness is currently less common in children than that caused by the 4 strains contained in the MenACWY vaccine.

Abbreviations

ACWY            Main Strains Causing Meningococcal Disease are A, B, C, W and Y