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SA meningococcal B vaccination program to combat prevalence in the state


Amanda Lyons


2/10/2018 1:54:12 PM

The South Australian Government has committed $31 million to protect babies and young children from the potentially deadly disease – which is more prevalent in SA than any other state.

SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade encourages ‘parents to talk to their GP or immunisation provider about the meningococcal B program’. (Image: David Mariuz)
SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade encourages ‘parents to talk to their GP or immunisation provider about the meningococcal B program’. (Image: David Mariuz)

‘We are proud to roll out the nation’s first meningococcal B immunisation program, which will help protect young South Australians from this awful disease and prevent an average of 12 cases of meningococcal B each year,’ State Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said at the launch of the program.
 
Free vaccinations against meningococcal B are now available in South Australia (SA) for children aged between six weeks and under four years through GPs, local government immunisation clinics, Aboriginal Health Services, Child and Family Health Services, and Country Health SA.
 
Adolescents and young adults will be able to join a catch-up program next year, and a program for Year 10 students will begin from 1 February 2019.
 
‘I encourage all parents to talk to their GP or immunisation provider about the meningococcal B program and have their children vaccinated,’ Minister Wade said.
 
The Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland have all offered specific age groups free vaccinations against meningococcal strains A, C, W and Y. There will also be a free program rolled out across the country against these strains from April next year as part of the National Immunisation Program.
 
But SA is the first state or territory to provide a program specifically targeting meningococcal B, which was until recently the dominant strain within Australia, but has been on a natural decline in most states and territories even without widespread vaccination.
 
However, for reasons unknown, this strain has remained more present in SA than in other states.
 
‘There have been 382 cases of meningococcal B disease in SA since 2000, which sadly includes 14 deaths,’ Minister Wade said. ‘Seventy percent of those deaths were people aged under 21.’
 
Prior to the launch of the new program, a full vaccination course for meningococcal B could cost up to $500, placing it out of the reach of many parents.

The SA vaccination program has been shown to cost $31 million, but the expert working group that developed the program found it was likely to prevent 12 cases every year and save one life every two years, as well as curb the potential of lifelong disabilities for people who contract the disease.
 
For many parents in the state, including Oren Klemich, who lost his son Jack to the disease in 2009, this makes the cost of the program well worthwhile.
 
‘This is saving lives. This is going to save a lot of heartache,’ Mr Klemich told the ABC.



Meningococcal B meningococcal vaccination South Australia



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