In an Australian-first, the WA Government 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. In 2017 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.
Source: WA Government