- Western Australia again leads the nation to protect vulnerable community members from meningococcal disease
- Meningococcal disease case numbers in WA doubled between 2017 and 2016
- Federal Government's lack of action and inability to take responsibility is risking lives
In an Australian-first, the McGowan Labor Government today announced all Western Australian children aged one to four years will have access to a free meningococcal ACWY vaccine.
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon, but sometimes life-threatening illness. At any one time, about 10 per cent of healthy people carry meningococcal bacteria harmlessly in their nose or throat, and do not become ill.
Rarely, however, a small proportion of people will develop serious invasive infections of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain. Last year WA had 46 cases of meningococcal disease, six of which were fatal. The highest attack rate occurred among children younger than five years of age.
To reduce the incidence of meningococcal disease among this vulnerable age group, a free vaccine will be available throughout 2018. Funding of this vaccine (called MenACWY) will cost the State $5.7 million.
Taking action and responsibility at a State level has been necessary as the Federal Government has so far failed to include the MenACWY vaccine as part of the National Immunisation Program.
Parents should contact their local GP or Child Health Clinic to schedule an appointment for their child to receive the vaccine.
The State is currently funding two other meningococcal ACWY vaccination programs, one for teenagers in Year 10 in 2018 and one for Aboriginal communities within regional Western Australia.
More information on all available vaccines is online at http://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/immunisation
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"In 2017, six cases of meningococcal disease in Western Australia resulted in death. My heart goes out to the families of those affected. This disease can be prevented through vaccination.
"Providing vaccines to protect public health is a Commonwealth responsibility yet they have remained idle on this issue for too long leaving the State Government to take control yet again on meningococcal vaccinations.
"The McGowan Labor Government is not prepared to put the lives of more Western Australians at risk while we wait for the Commonwealth to act.
"The Federal Government needs to act quickly and show some leadership. Put people ahead of dollars and add the MenACWY vaccine to the National Immunisation Program, as well as implement catch-up programs to protect at-risk community members."
Minister's office - 6552 6500
- MenACWY vaccination program will not prevent cases caused by meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) strains, so some MenB infections may still occur.
- MenB illness is currently less common in children than that caused by the four strains contained in the MenACWY vaccine.