Meningococcal deaths climb, new vaccine protects babies
A QUAD-STRAIN vaccine will be added to the National Immunisation Program to help protect our youngest children from the devastating consequences of meningococcal.
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said the new vaccine, called Nimenrix, covers against A, C, W and Y strains (MenACWY) and will be added to the NIP ahead of the next peak meningococcal season which, based on previous years, is expected to be in the second half of the year.
"Meningococcal is a rare but very serious infection that has devastating consequences for individuals and their families," Mr O'Brien said.
"It occurs when meningococcal bacteria from the throat or nose 'invades' the body, and tragically, in recent years we have seen a rise in the number of invasive meningococcal cases in Australia."
In 2017, there were 382 cases reported nationally, compared with 252 cases in 2016 and 182 cases in 2015.
Deaths associated with meningococcal have also risen, with 28 deaths in 2017, compared with 11 deaths in 2016 and 12 deaths in 2015.
Currently, infants aged 12 months are given a single-strain Meningococcal C vaccine.
Mr O'Brien urged all parents to take advantage of the new vaccine, and to get the facts about immunisation by visiting https://immunisationfacts.gov.au.
"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," Mr O'Brien said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said upgrading to the quad-strain is great news for parents and infants, but it's only the first step in the Turnbull Government's broader approach to reduce the impact of meningococcal.
"In March 2018, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) will consider the listing of a MenACWY vaccine for adolescents." Minister Hunt said.
"We are committed to strengthening Australia's world-class national vaccination program and we urge all Australian parents and carers to have their children vaccinated."
"The announcement follows the decision by PBAC to recommend the listing of Nimenrix for infants aged 12 months of age."
Mr O'Brien said the Coalition has a policy of funding all medicines recommended by PBAC.
"This is part of our rock sold commitment to making medicines accessible, and because immunisation is critical to maintaining public health and preventing the outbreak of infectious diseases." he said.