So far this year, there have been 19 cases of meningococcal disease reported in NSW. The majority of cases have been due to the Meningococcal B strain of the infection. Meningococci can cause meningitis and other invasive disease (sepsis) – these are rare but life-threatening.
Meningococci are carried in the throat,and transmitted through close contact and respiratory droplets. The most at risk groups are children under 2, and 15-19 year olds, but people at any age can be affected.
Parents of young children will be familiar with the recommendations – Meningococcal ACWY (Nimenrix) is administered in the 12 month schedule, and Meningococcal B (Bexsero) is also recommended though not funded. Bexsero can be administered at any time with the regular scheduled newborn vaccines, and requires 2-3 vaccines (depending on age of first dose).
Meningococcal ACWY (Nimenrix) vaccine has been administered to Year 10 students for the past 5 years. If you didn’t attend school on the day it’s possible to have missed out. You can check your records on the Australian Immunisation Register through Medicare or My Health Record. If you have missed a dose, free catch up is available through our Practice Nurse up until age 19. Private cost is about $60-$80.
Meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero) is also recommended for teenagers. It is not offered in schools or funded by the government. Two vaccines are required – we can provide you a prescription, or vaccines are available for $135. Discuss with your doctor or the Practice Nurse.
Given that meningococcal disease spreads through close contact vaccination is worth considering for younger people living in share accommodation and university colleges, attending music festivals and travel.
People of any age who want to protect themselves against Meningococcal disease with either or both vaccine can make a time to discuss with their doctor. We particularly recommend this for travel.