Free teenage vaccines for meningococcal
Recent teenage deaths from meningococcal have been the catalyst for new funding towards a greater immunisation program against the disease.
The Government has launched a new free national program for 14 to 19 year-olds, and committed $52 million to the program.
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 given 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.
Health Minister Greg Hunt used the announcement to stress the need for immunisation in general.
“Vaccination works and is an effective and safe tool to prevent the spread of many diseases that cause hospitalisation, serious ongoing health conditions and sometimes death,” he said.
“Meningococcal is a rare but very serious infection that occurs when meningococcal bacteria from the throat or nose invades the body. The consequences are devastating for individuals and their families.
“I am absolutely committed to strengthening Australia’s world-class national vaccination program and urge all Australian parents to have their teenagers vaccinated.”
In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of invasive meningococcal disease cases in Australia.
In 2017, there were 382 cases reported nationally, compared with 252 cases in 2016 and 182 cases in 2015.
The Minister’s announcement follows a recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to list the meningococcal A, C, W and Y vaccine for adolescents.
The Committee is independent of Government by law and in practice. By law the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine or vaccine without a positive recommendation from PBAC.
Published: 05 Oct 2018