Meningococcal disease and Immunisation

Meningococcal disease is a severe infection caused by meningococcus bacteria which can result in a rash, inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and even septicaemia (infection of the blood). Symptoms can start suddenly and be very deadly.

Meningococcal disease can affect all age groups but is most common in children under 5 years of age and in young adults (15 to 24 years).

There are 13 different types of meningococcus, but most infections in Australia are caused by types B and W. In South Australia in 2021, there were 12 cases of meningococcal, six were serogroup B and six were serogroup W.

The meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero) is currently funded for children under 12 months of age, and through the School Immunisation Program in Year 10. Children under 12 months of age receive a course of 3 meningococcal B vaccines given at 6 weeks, 4 and 12 months of age. The school immunisation program requires 2 doses, eight week apart.

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine (Nimenrix®) is provided under the National Immunisation Program and is administered at 12 months of age and through the School Immunisation Program in Year 10. If missed at school, there is a catch-up program for teenagers aged 15 to 19 years of age to be able to receive the vaccine.

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine can also be given earlier than 12 months of age in a 3-dose schedule like the Meningococcal B vaccine. However, two of these doses are not included on the NIP and are a privately-funded vaccine. 

Pear Tree can order these vaccines for your convenience for $77 each, or you can make a doctor’s appointment and request a script to source this privately.

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