News

22-05-2016

Meningococcal disease is rare, on average there are between 10 and 20 cases in Western Australia each year, mainly in winter and early spring. The disease can occur at any age, but babies and children under 5 years of age are most at risk and teenagers 15 -24 years of age are then next most common group affected . The most common symptoms can be nonspecific fever, headache, light sensitivity, muscle ache, cold hands,  joint pain, nausea and vomiting and distinctive rash. Not all the symptoms or signs are present at the start of the illness. The disease can progress rapidly in healthy individuals and has a high mortality rate and high rate of permanent disability in survivors for invasive disease.

The bacteria are spread by respiratory droplets ( coughing, sneezing ) most likely from close contacts such as household members and children on the same child care group over  more than 4 hours.

Vaccines are available against many of the meningococcal serogroups, which include serogroup C and serogroup B.

Meningococcal C vaccine is combined with haemophilus influenza type B vaccine and is offered free to all children at 12 months of age Only one dose is required for long term protection.

Meningococcal B vaccine is not currently funded by the National Immunisation Program, ( NIP) but it is available privately. The decision not to fund the vaccine as part of the schedule offered free to all children is made  after considering many factors such as the incidence of the disease and the cost of the vaccine. Applications continue to made to the Australian Pharmaceutical benefits Advisory Committee ( PBAC) to consider including the vaccine in the NIP.  The number of doses depends on the age of the person. It is registered for use from as early as 6 weeks to commence with the schedule for other routine infant vaccines. The vaccine can be administered at the same time as other vaccines, but the recommendation is to give prophylactic paracetamol to reduce fever risk following the vaccinations. The cost per vaccine is approximately $150 

Meningococcal serogroups A,C,W and Y vaccine is recommended for people who are travelling to high risk areas in Africa, the Middle East, Nepal and young people planning to work in the USA holiday camps or attend University in the USA and some of the Universities in the UK. The vaccine is available as part of travel vaccination advice through your GP or travel vaccine clinics.

To see more details about the various vaccine, see the meningococcal disease page of  immunise.health.gov.au 

 

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