Vaccines are now available through your GP, after long periods during 2017 of reduced supply and absence for Australian infants, children and adults. These vaccines protect against the major causes of bacterial meningitis, meningococcal type B, ACYW, pneumococcal and haemophilus influenza Type B.

The incidence of invasive meningococcal disease in Australia is low, but the number of cases due to serogroup W has been increasing since 2013. In Western Australia a meningococcal vaccination program for people 15-19 years of age is available, with vaccines ( Nimenrix) funded by the government being available through schools, community health centres and GPs. This is the age group with the highest rates of meningococcal carriage and illness. It is expected that providing the meningococcal ACWY vaccine to this age group will reduce the spread of the infection in WA.

There are no subsidies for the B type vaccination in Western Australia, nor for the ACWY vaccination for those either side of 15-19 years of age, but both vaccines are available through your GP. The UK introduced the meningococcal B vaccine into the routine NHS childhood vaccination programme in 2015. It involves three injections given at two,  six and 12 months, the vaccine is more likely to cause fever in babies than other vaccines and the recommendation is to give paracetamol at the time of vaccination.

For parents considering vaccinating their infants against the rare but serious strains of meningitis, it is currently recommended in WA, for infants under one year of age to give Type B vaccine first, ( said to improve the immune response of the ACWY vaccine) The usual gap recommended is at least 4 weeks if giving another vaccine In Australia it is also advised for parents to give paracetamol at the time of the vaccination to reduce the risk of fever as a result of the vaccine.

There are slightly different schedules and numbers of vaccines required  for babies under 6 months of age, between 6 and 12 months and over 2 years. This is because the infant's immune response is poor, but it is the time the child is most vulnerable to infection The vaccines can be started from 2 months of age. 

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