Free Meningococcal vaccine for young people
To combat a recent rise in cases of Meningococcal disease, the Victorian Government has introduced a free, time-limited vaccine program for young people in Years 10, 11 and 12 in Victoria from 18 April 2017 until 31 December 2017.
Young people receiving the vaccine will be protected against the increasingly common ‘W’ strain of the disease, as well as three other strains (‘A’, ‘C’ and ‘Y’).
Who is eligible for the free Meningococcal vaccine?
The vaccine is free to young people in Years 10, 11 and 12 of secondary school, as well as those young people not in secondary school but of an equivalent age (aged 15-19 years between 18 April 2017 and 31 December 2017). You do not need to be a Medicare card holder to be eligible.
Why get the free Meningococcal vaccine?
Although uncommon, meningococcal disease can become life-threatening very quickly. In fatal cases of Meningococcal disease the average time from the first symptom until death is 24 to 48 hours.
Since 2014 the meningococcal W strain has increased across Australia, and it is now the predominant strain in Victoria, increasing from a single case of the ‘W’ strain in 2013, to 48 cases in 2016. In fact, cases of all strains of meningococcal disease are on the rise.
If you are vaccinated, you protect yourself and others around you by reducing the spread of the disease. The vaccine is safe and effective and free to eligible young people for a limited time.
Who can administer the free vaccine?
Most eligible young people will receive the vaccine as part of the secondary school vaccine program. Nurse immunisers employed by local councils attend every secondary school in the municipality. If an eligible young person cannot or does not receive the vaccine through the secondary school program, they can receive the vaccine from a GP or the local council community immunisation service.
What consent is required to administer the vaccine?
In the secondary school program, 15, 16 and 17 year olds need consent from a parent or guardian to receive the vaccine. Eligible young people receiving the vaccine at school will have been provided with a parent/guardian consent form by which parent/guardians indicate consent in writing.
In a clinical setting such as a medical centre the parent/guardian of an eligible 15, 16 or 17 year old can provide consent to the immunisation provider. An immunisation provider can determine 'mature minor' consent where applicable.
Eighteen and 19 year olds can provide their own consent.
For more information about Meningococcal and the free vaccine for young people visit the following sites:
- Health.vic.gov.au - Meningococcal ACWY vaccine for adolescents
- Better Health Channel - Meningococcal vaccine for young people
Links and where to get help.
- Better Health Channel Meningococcal disease and Meningococcal disease – immunisation fact sheet's.
- Your GP
- Your local government immunisation service
- Maternal and Child Health Line. (24 hours) Tel. 13 22 29
- NURSE-ON-CALL. Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
- Immunisation Program, Department of Health & Human Services, Victorian Government Tel. 1300 882 008
- National Immunisation Information Line Tel. 1800 671 811
- SAEFVIC, the Victorian vaccine safety service Tel. 1300 882 924 #1