What is Meningococcal Disease?
Meningococcal Disease is a rare and serious bacterial infection of the blood and/or membranes that line the spinal cord and brain caused by the infection Neisseria meningitidis, of which there are several serogroups. Disease caused by serogroups A, B, C, W and Y can be prevented by vaccines.
The disease can start suddenly and become serious very quickly causing lifelong disabilities and can even be fatal.
What are the signs and symptoms of Meningococcal Disease?
Symptoms of the disease can be difficult to recognise and can be easily mistaken for the common cold or virus.
Some of the more common symptoms are listed below:
High fever, headaches, refusal to eat, lethargy, drowsiness or confusion, neck stiffness, skin rash, sensitive to light, nausea and vomiting.
High Fever, a bulging fonteanelle (spot on top of head) a high-pitched moaning cry, irritable and unsettled, refusing feeds, vomiting, difficult to wake or floppy, pale or blotchy skin and a skin rash.
Who can benefit from the vaccine?
Meningococcal Disease can occur in any age group but babies and children under 5 are at most risk, followed by adolescents. With the highest incidence seen in babies under 12 months of age.
Young children have an undeveloped immune system so are more likely to pick up a strain of Meningococcal that they are not immunised against or don’t have natural immunity to. In adolescents’ changes in social behaviour that result in close physical contact also increase the likelihood of the spread of the disease and increase the risk of Meningococcal Disease.
Meningococcal immunisation is also recommended for travellers to countries where Meningococcal Disease is common, people at occupational risk and people with an increased risk of invasive Meningococcal Disease.
What vaccines are available for protection from Meningococcal Disease?
There are several vaccines available for the most common serogroups that cause disease in Australia.: Meningococcal B and Meningococcal ACWY.
On the current Victorian Immunisation Schedule (free of charge):
- Children at 12 months of age receive a Meningococcal vaccine against meningococcal strains A, C, W, Y.
- Year 10 secondary school (or age equivalent) receive a Meningococcal vaccine against meningococcal strains A, C, W, Y.
Currently Meningococcal B is available for purchase on the private market only.
As each serogroup is different – having a vaccine that protects against serogroup A, C, W, Y will not offer protection against serogroup B and having a vaccine that offers protection against serogroup B will not offer protection against serogroups A, C, W, Y.
What are the possible side effects of the vaccine?
All Meningococcal vaccines have been found to be safe and tolerated well in clinical trials. But as it is a vaccine, individuals can sometimes still have an adverse reaction to it.
The more common adverse effects are: pain at the injection site, fever, malaise, headache and diarrhoea.
Is the vaccine bulk billed? If not, how much can I expect to pay?
Meningococcal vaccines to protect against serogroup A, C, W, Y are currently on the National Immunisation Schedule and are provided free of charge to babies at 12 months of age and Adolescents when they are in year 10 at school.
For other individuals not in the above age groups who want to receive the Meningococcal vaccine for serogroups (ACWY) are available for private purchase and cost $75.
Meningococcal B vaccine is only available on the private market in Victoria. The cost of the vaccine is $140 per dose. The number of doses required depends on the individuals age when they received their first dose. This vaccine can be given from 2 months of age.
If Meningococcal vaccines offer the best protection against the disease, why hasn’t the government listed them all on the immunisation schedule?
Vaccines are very costly to manufacture so governments need to make decisions on which vaccines are more beneficial on a population level and provide the best protection to the community.
Why should I get my vaccines at Active Medical Centre?
Time and care is taken at Active Medical Centre to provide 24 hour monitoring of ALL vaccines. Our team follow strict guidelines to ensure only the highest quality vaccine is given to our patients. It is important to have vaccines stored at the correct temperature and monitored carefully. The only way we can be sure that you receive the maximum benefit of your vaccine is to make sure your vaccine has been stored and administered correctly.
How do I book an appointment to get the Meningococcal Vaccines?
Phone our friendly team on 9363 0954, BOOK ONLINE or visit us at Active Medical Centre. 228-232 Caroline Springs Blvd, Caroline Springs.