Teens Urged to Take Up Free Meningococcal Vaccine

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick wants teenagers aged 15 to 19 from across the region to step up for a jab.

meningococcal diseaseHe’s calling on our young people to front up for free vaccinations against four strains of meningococcal disease.

The $6 million for a 12-month vaccination program, follows an increase in meningococcal serogroup W and Y notifications in 2016.

Mr Dick says more than 300,000 eligible teenagers will have access to the free vaccine in Queensland.

“The vaccination covers the A, C, W and Y strains of meningococcal disease. Every Queensland Year 10 student will be eligible for the vaccination through the School Immunization Program in the 2017 school year.”

The vaccine will also be available through GPs and other immunization providers for 15 to 19 year olds, until the end of May 2018.

Jeannette Young

Dr Jeannette Young

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young says meningococcal W was an emerging strain that requires preventive action.

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

“Year to date 2017, there have been 6 cases of meningococcal W notified, which is around 20 percent of all cases this year.

“It’s a very virulent strain and it’s on the rise in Queensland, so anything we can do to combat its rise is a good step.”

Meningococcal Y is also on the increase in Queensland, with 13 cases notified in 2016, and this strain is also covered by this vaccine.

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

Meningococcal disease can lead to death or long-term health issues including limb deformity, deafness, epilepsy and possible loss of brain function. Approximately 10 per cent of cases are fatal.