Quad-strain meningococcal vaccine to be added to National Immunisation Program
To protect Australia’s youngest residents from the devastating consequences of meningococcal disease, the Federal Government will add a quad-strain vaccine to the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
The new vaccine (Nimenrix) covers against A, C, W and Y strains (MenACWY) and will be added to the NIP ahead of the next peak meningococcal disease season which, based on previous years, is expected to be in the second half of the year.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but very serious infection that occurs when meningococcal bacteria from the throat or nose ‘invades’ the body. The consequences are devastating for individuals and for their families.
In recent years there has been a rise in the number of invasive meningococcal disease 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 disease 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.
Upgrading to the quad-strain is the first step in the Government’s broader approach to reduce the impact of meningococcal disease. In March 2018, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) will consider the listing of a MenACWY vaccine for adolescents.
GPs are in a prime position to urge all parents and carers to have their children vaccinated. The announcement from the Government follows the decision earlier this week by PBAC to recommend the listing of Nimenrix for infants aged 12 months of age.
Get the facts about immunisation by visiting https://immunisationfacts.gov.au