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Gold Coast Health Immunisation

Meningococcal program

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, but sometimes life threatening illness.  At any one time, approximately 10 per cent of healthy people carry meningococcal bacteria harmlessly in their nose or throat and do not become ill. The bacteria are more commonly found in teenagers and young adults.

There are a number of different strains of meningococcal bacteria. Worldwide, the main strains that cause meningococcal disease are A, B, C, W and Y.

Meningococcal disease usually takes 3 to 4 days to develop but can take as long as 10 days.  Symptoms of meningococcal disease include headaches, fever, vomiting, muscle pain and in the later stages, may be accompanied by the appearance of a spotty red-purple rash that looks like small bleeding points beneath the skin or bruises.

Meningococcal disease can be a severe infection, but most people make a full recovery. However, about 10 per cent of cases suffer a long term disability (e.g. deafness, intellectual disability).  In very rare cases, meningococcal infection can result in death.  It is important that people with symptoms seek medical advice early. Most people recover completely with early antibiotic treatment.
 

Why is Queensland Health offering this program?

During 2016 in Australia, there was a substantial rise in the number of meningococcal W cases, with more cases of this strain reported than meningococcal B cases.

In Queensland during 2016, there was a rise in the numbers of meningococcal W cases, and also meningococcal Y cases. The total number of notifications of meningococcal disease in Queensland in 2016 was 45. Of these, 17 were meningococcal B, 13 meningococcal W and 13 meningococcal Y.

As there is a safe and effective vaccine that covers strains A, C, W and Y, the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program is being introduced. It is designed to protect young people and also reduce risks for the community as a whole by decreasing the proportion of people carrying the bacteria in their nose and throat.

What is the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program?

The Queensland Government is offering free meningococcal ACWY vaccination to all Year 10 students through the School Immunisation Program and is also offering free vaccine for young people aged 15 to 19 years of age through their doctor or immunisation provider. While the vaccine is provided free by the Queensland Government, the doctor may charge a consultation fee.

Where can 15 to 19 year olds get the vaccine?

Any Queensland resident 15 to 19 years old will be able to get the meningococcal ACWY vaccine either through the School Immunisation Program if they are in Year 10, or from their usual immunisation provider, such as Gold Coast Health community immunisation clinics or their doctor.

The vaccine is free, however the doctor may charge a consultation fee.

Free meningococcal community clinics will be held specifically for 15-19 year olds as follows:

Date Time Location
27 September 9am–1pm Albert Waterways Community Centre Clinic
Cnr Hooker Blvd and Sunshine Boulevard, Broadbeach Waters
28 September 2pm–6pm Albert Waterways Community Centre Clinic
Cnr Hooker Blvd and Sunshine Boulevard, Broadbeach Waters

Additional clinics will be notified here in the coming months.
 

Why is this program targeting 15 to 19 year olds?

Some of the highest rates of meningococcal carriage occur among 15 to 19 year olds and this age group can transmit the meningococcal bacteria to people who are at increased risk of infection, including young children.

The reason we are vaccinating 15 to 19 year olds is to reduce the risk of meningococcal disease caused by strains A, C, W and Y in this age group, and to reduce the spread of meningococcal disease caused by these strains. Vaccinating this group will protect individuals immediately and the wider community over time.

What if my child has already been vaccinated against meningococcal C?

Vaccination against meningococcal C has been included in the National Immunisation Program Schedule since 1 January 2003. From 2003 to June 2008, meningococcal C vaccine was provided in a catch-up program for all children aged 1 to 19 years. This means that many children in the target group for the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program will have received meningococcal C vaccine.

Previous vaccination with the meningococcal C vaccine is no barrier to having the meningococcal ACWY vaccine. The vaccine being used in the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program provides protection against meningococcal strains A, C W and Y. It is important that individuals are vaccinated with meningococcal ACWY to protect them against the extra strains.

When will the program start?

The school immunisation program will commence in some schools in school term 2, 2017 with progressive implementation throughout the 2017 school year. Doctors and other immunisation providers will have vaccines available from June 2017 to May 2018.

Who will be eligible?

Individuals in either of the following two groups are eligible:

  • Students enrolled in Year 10 in 2017
  • Young people aged 15 to 19 years at time of vaccination.
When will clinics be held at Gold Coast secondary schools?

School vaccination clinics will commence in June 2017 and roll out to all schools across the Gold Coast in term 2 and 3.

If your child is in Year 10, you will be sent an electronic consent form via the school in May 2017.  You will then be able to enrol your child for the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program. If you would like your child to receive meningococcal ACWY vaccine, please complete and submit the consent form.  If you do not receive this invitation to enrol or have trouble submitting the electronic consent form please contact us via immunisegc@health.qld.gov.au or phone 1800 940 750.

When will the vaccine be available at community immunisation clinics or from my doctors surgery?

From June 2017 community clinics and most doctors surgeries will have the vaccine. Parents and young adults may wish to ring their doctor’s surgery to check they have the meningococcal ACWY vaccine in stock before making an appointment.

How long will the program run for?

The Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program for Year 10 students as part of the School Immunisation Program will run in schools during the 2017 school year. Free meningococcal ACWY vaccine will be available from June 2017 until the end of May 2018.

Which vaccine is being used?

The Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program will be using Menveo® and Menactra® vaccines.

There are three brands of vaccine which protect against meningococcal ACWY registered for use in

Australia and all have been shown to be effective. There is no single vaccine which gives protection against all strains of meningococcal disease.

Is the meningococcal ACWY vaccine safe?

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is safe and effective. Meningococcal ACWY vaccination programs targeting adolescents have been effectively implemented in the UK since 2015 and in the US since 2005.

Serious side effects from the vaccine are extremely rare. Minor side effects that may be experienced include tenderness, redness or swelling at the site of injection and, low grade fever.

Can I get younger members of my family vaccinated through this program?

No. The Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program is for 15 to 19 year olds. If you would like to have younger members of your family vaccinated you will need to buy the vaccine with a doctor’s prescription and get your doctor or immunisation provider to give the vaccine.

Can I get a reimbursement from the government if my 15 to 19 year old has previously received a vaccine that I paid for?

No. If you paid to have a 15 to 19 year old vaccinated before the program started, you cannot be reimbursed by the government for this cost.

Can I get the vaccine at Gold Coast Health Community Clinics?

Yes. Special meningococcal vaccination clinics have been setup for young people 15-19 years of age.

Date Time Location
28 June 8:30am–1:30pm Upper Coomera Clinic
90 Reserve Rd, Upper Coomera QLD 4209
29 June 9:30am–1:30pm Albert Waterways Community Centre Clinic
Cnr Hooker Blvd and Sunshine Boulevard, Broadbeach Waters (school holiday clinic)
Where can I get more information about meningococcal disease?

Call 1800 940 750 or email immunisegc@health.qld.gov.au or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)


Last updated 21 Sep 2017