Queensland Teenagers To Have Free Access For Meningococcal Vaccination

Queensland Teenagers To Have Free Access For Meningococcal Vaccination

Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick

Queensland Invests In Meningococcal Response

Victor P Taffa

More than 300,000 eligible 15-19 year old Queensland teenagers will have access to a free, four strain meningococcal vaccination from Term 2 of the current school year.

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick today announced the Palaszczuk Government would make $6 Million available for a 12 month vaccination program, following an increase in meningococcal serogroup W and Y notifications during 2016.

“While the best way to reduce the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases in Australia is through a national program, we have to act now to protect Queensland teenagers from this deadly disease.” Mr. Dick said.

“Queensland and other states have acted swiftly to protect teenagers, however this has resulted in a patchwork immunisation regime across the country.”

“This is not the best answer for our nation, particularly given Australians frequently travel between states and territories.”

“I’m calling on the Commonwealth to act to replace the Meningococcal C vaccination on the National Immunisation Program with the four strain A, C, W and Y vaccine, to provide greater protection as the rates of meningococcal disease rise.” Mr. Dick said.

Under the Palaszczuk Government’s plan, the four-strain vaccine will be available to every Queensland Year 10 school student as part of the school immunisation program. The Department of Health will also make the vaccine available free of charge via GPs and other immunisation providers for all Queenslanders aged 15 to 19.

Queensland Health Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young said although meningococcal W and Y are uncommon in Queensland, these are emerging strains that require preventative action.

“In 2016, 13 cases of meningococcal W were identified, equating to around 30 % of all meningococcal cases in Queensland last year.” Dr. Young said.

“Five years ago we saw three cases of meningococcal W.”

“15 Queenslanders have lost their lives to meningococcal since 2010, so anything we can do to combat this rise is a good step.”

Dr. Young said older teenagers are both at increased risk of meningococcal disease and are more likely to spread the disease to others because they were often in closer contact.

“The science tells us the optimal time to vaccinate students is when they are between 15 and 16 years of age.” Dr. Young said.

Queensland school vaccination program is expected to begin rolling out from Term 2, 2017 and be completed by the end of Term 3, with the vaccination also available at GPs from 1 June 2017.

Meningococcal disease is a severe infection and anyone experiencing symptoms should seek urgent medical attention. Symptoms can include vomiting, fever, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, drowsiness, joint pain or a rash of red-purple spots or bruises.