Free Meningococcal B vaccine in high demand

South Australians are enthusiastically embracing the Marshall Liberal Government’s free Meningococcal B Immunisation Program – with more than 13,500 children under four years old vaccinated in the first two months of the program.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said that more than 34,000 doses of the Bexsero vaccine have been distributed to nearly 500 immunisation providers across the state since the program began on 1 October.

“This free vaccine program is saving lives and protecting lives,” Minister Wade said.

“While the program only began a short time ago, South Australians have embraced it with gusto.

“I’m thrilled the uptake of the program has been so strong and so many South Australian children are now protected against the potentially deadly disease.

“I encourage all parents who have children under four to take advantage of the free vaccine.”

Of the 13,516 doses that have been administered:

  • 5,716 doses have been administered to children under 12 months
  • 7,800 doses have been administered to children from 12 months to four years

The majority of the vaccine doses (88 per cent) have been given to GPs, with regional health centres, local councils, Aboriginal health centres, child and youth health services and the Royal Flying Doctors Service also receiving vaccinations.

Encouragingly, the majority of these providers have re-ordered since the program started.

The expert working group which developed the free Meningococcal B Immunisation Program estimates it will prevent around 12 cases of meningococcal B disease each year and prevent one death every two years.

It is also expected to reduce the amount of disability experienced by those who survive the disease.

To date, there have been 32 cases of invasive meningococcal disease reported in South Australia this year, compared with 35 cases at the same time last year.

Of the 32 cases, 26 have been serogroup B, four serogroup W, and two serogroup Y.

Young children, particularly those less than two years of age, have the highest incidence of invasive meningococcal B disease. The second highest at risk group are those aged between 15 and 20 years.

The childhood program is offered to those aged 6 weeks to 12 months and started on 1 October.

A childhood catch-up program is currently available to those from 12 months to less than 4 years of age. The childhood catch-up program will end on 31 December 2019.

The adolescent and young person’s program will start on 1 February 2019.

Students in Years 10 and 11 will be offered the vaccine through the School Immunisation Program, with an ongoing school program for Year 10 students.

A catch-up program will be available for those aged 17 to less than 21 years of age who are encouraged to access the vaccine from their usual immunisation provider.

This catch-up program will end 31 December 2019.

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