PROTECTING MORE VICTORIAN TEENS FROM MENINGOCOCCAL
Friday, 2 February, 2018
The Andrews Labor Government is extending a free meningococcal vaccination program so even more young Victorians can be protected against the deadly disease.
Visiting Traralgon Secondary College, Minister for Health Jill Hennessy and Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing today announced the Government will deliver $1.5 million to extend the offer of a free meningococcal ACWY vaccine in 2018 for young people in Year 10 of secondary school until 31 December 2018.
Last year, the free vaccination program for 15-19 year olds was a huge success with more than 200,000 vaccines distributed across Victoria. But we need to do more.
This year’s program will now capture the new group of young people moving into the age group who are more likely to spread the disease to others. By offering a free vaccination to this age group, we can help protect the wider community by reducing the spread of the disease.
In 2017, there were 89 reported cases of meningococcal disease compared to 78 in 2016 and 56 in 2015. In recent years, the prevalence of the W strain has increased significantly across Australia, with the Y strain also increasing.
This year, the free meningococcal vaccine will be free to all young people in Year 10 of secondary school, as well as those young people not in secondary school but of an equivalent age (15 or 16 years old).
They will be able to get the vaccine at school, at their GP or through their local council immunisation session. They will be protected against four strains of meningococcal disease, ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘W’ and ‘Y’.
Although uncommon, meningococcal disease can become life-threatening very quickly. The infection can develop very quickly and can kill in 24 to 48 hours. It is spread by close, prolonged household and intimate contact. In a small number of people, the bacteria can enter the blood stream and cause invasive meningococcal disease.
Up to 10 per cent of people who are infected can die, and up to 20 per cent of survivors can suffer permanent disability such as brain damage or the loss of fingers, toes or limbs. Knowing the symptoms of meningococcal disease could save your life.
The most common symptoms are fever, headache and neck stiffness, for more information visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/menvax.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“Immunisation is safe, effective and saves lives. We are continuing to combat increasing cases of meningococcal disease by delivering a free vaccine to teens for another year.”
“We know teenagers are at increased risk and are more likely to spread the disease to others.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing
“Our local schools, GPs and councils will be working with students and families to offer this free life-saving vaccine to young Victorians, and help protect the wider community by reducing the spread of the disease.”