25 September 2018

New meningococcal vaccine to support teenagers in Wide Bay
The Coalition Government will invest $52 million to protect Australian teenagers against meningococcal disease, Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien said today.

“I welcome the launch of a new free national program available in Wide Bay to immunise young people aged between 14 to 19 years,” Mr O’Brien said
 
“There will be more than 1 million teenagers eligible for the meningococcal A, C, W and Y vaccine over the next four years.
 
“The vaccine will be added to the National Immunisation Program from April 2019 and provided 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.”
 
Mr O’Brien said the Liberal National Government’s announcement builds on an already strong vaccination program.
 
“From July 1, every 12 month old in the country is now offered a free ACWY meningococcal vaccine and every mother is given the opportunity to vaccinate against whooping cough with a free vaccine,” Mr O’Brien said.
 
Health Minister Greg Hunt 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.
 
“In recent years we have seen 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,” Minister Hunt said.
 
“Deaths associated with meningococcal disease have also risen, with 28 deaths in 2017, compared with 11 deaths in 2016 and 12 deaths in 2015.”
 
“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.
 
“I am absolutely committed to strengthening Australia’s world-class national immunisation program and urge all Australian parents to have their teenagers vaccinated,” said Minister Hunt.
 
Today’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.
 
Further information and details about immunisation can be found at health.gov.au/immunisation
ENDS