Meningococcal vaccine program expands

The NT’s meningococcal vaccine program targeting people aged 1-19 years is being expanded to include Darwin.

Katherine was included in the program last year.

In 2017, the NT Government funded the vaccination of people aged 1-19 years in stages based on risk in urban and remote areas in Alice Springs, Barkly, Katherine, East Arnhem and rural Darwin. This was done in response to the Men W outbreak.

Prior to July 2018, there were no cases of Meningococcal W in Darwin.

Two cases of meningococcal W  disease have been confirmed in the Top End.

One woman in the urban Darwin area has recovered and been discharged from Royal Darwin Hospital however a second woman, from a remote Top End community, died last week.

Centre for Disease Control has advised the benefits of a Meningococcal ACWY vaccine program for urban Darwin 1-19 year olds include:

·         Provision of vaccine across all 1-19 year olds across the NT, including urban Darwin, to protect against a severe disease that can cause death and long-term sequelae including: limb amputation, hearing loss, seizures, renal insufficiency, significant neurological deficits, skin scarring and death.

·         Increased protection for the rest of the community as people aged 15-19 years have the highest carriage rate for the bacteria and can transmit the disease to others in the community.

Meningococcal ACWY vaccine for adolescents aged 15-19 years is given by all other states and territories except South Australia, a state that provides MenB vaccine for this age group. 

A MenB vaccine program is not included in this program as it is of low incidence in NT. The availability of MenB vaccine is via a GP prescription.

From July 1 the Australian Government began funding the vaccine for babies aged 12 months old Australia wide under the National Immunisation Program.