About the Disease
Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause serious or life-threatening conditions including meningitis (inflammation/swelling of the lining of the brain) and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning) and certain other rare conditions. There are 13 different strains of the disease.
Strains A, B, C, W135 and Y most commonly cause disease. There is no single vaccine that offers protection against all meningococcal strains.
Meningococcal B Vaccine (Bexsero) will protect against B strains while Meningococcal C Conjugate vaccine will protect your child against C strains.
Quadrivalent Meningococcal vaccine protects against A, C, W135 and Y. Menveo is the only Quadrivalent vaccination approved in young infants from aged 2 months.
Is there access to vaccine for those in non-funded groups?
Meningococcal C vaccine is not funded for infants aged less than 12 months, and adults over 19 years, but the vaccine is available from pharmacies on private prescription.
Meningococcal B Vaccine (Bexsero) is only available by private prescription.
Please consult your pharmacist for information on the price of these vaccinations.
It is important to note:
- The C strain currently now only makes up about 6% of all Meningococcal disease in Australia thanks to the Meningococcal C vaccination that was introduced in 2003 under the National Immunisation Program.
- Meningococcal B disease is now responsible for 73% of cases of the disease in Australia. (2014)
- 83% of cases of meningitis in infants < 1 year were caused by the B strain (2014)
- Meningococcal B Vaccine (Bexsero) vaccine is now available to protect against Meningococcal B disease but is not currently part of the childhood immunisation program.
- It is therefore important to still be alert for signs of Meningococcal disease.
Are there any side effects from the vaccine?
The side effects from the vaccine are usually mild and do not last long. Side effects can include redness and soreness at the site of injection, mild temperature, headache, dizziness and nausea. Rare side effects include fits and allergic reactions.
If you are concerned about your child following vaccination, please consult your general practitioner, immunisation provider, or contact either Child and Youth Parent Helpline 1300 364 100 (24 hours, 7 days) or the South Australian Immunisation Coordination Unit Ph: 8226 7177.
Are there any reasons why I should postpone or not have my child vaccinated with Meningococcal B or C Vaccine?
Immunisation should not be given if:
- Meningococcal infection, while uncommon, can cause serious, often fatal infection - meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning).
- Children under 4 years of age and teenagers, 15 to 20 years, are at most risk of serious infection.
- The meningococcal infection has a rapid onset of high fever, marked unwellness with shock, severe headache and a mottled rash (like bruising) - death within 24 hours of onset is not uncommon.
- There are many strains of meningococcus - type B and C are the common strains
- Type C is associated with most serious infections.
- Meningococcal vaccinations give protection against the B and C strain of meningococcus.
- Children over 8 weeks of age can be vaccinated. From January 2003 Meningococcal C vaccine has been provided free for children between 1 and 5 years of age at our surgery.
- Children turning 1 on or after 1st January 2003 will have the Meningococcal C vaccine as part of the '12 month' injections.
- Children over 1 year and not turning 5 until after 1st January 2003 can receive free Meningococcal C vaccine through their general practice.
- Children turning 5 on or before 1st January 2003 - up to and including children aged 14 will receive Meningococcal C vaccine in a free school based program to be delivered in 2004-2005.
- Those aged 15 to turning 19 after 1st January 2003 will receive free Meningococcal C vaccine via their GP, school or other special program.)
- Approximate cost of Meningococcal C vaccination : ~$70 per injection - if not eligible for the free program.
- Approximate cost of Meningococcal B vaccination : ~$125 per injection
The Meningococcal vaccine is not a live vaccine.
Children under 4 years of age and teenagers, 15 to 20 years, are at most risk of serious infection. Therefore, children over 6 weeks of age can be vaccinated as part of the Immunisation Schedule for Children.
Teenagers, 15 - 19 yrs old will be provided the vaccine through the free school based programs.
Meningococcal vaccine should not be given :
The vaccine is not a live vaccine - it cannot cause meningitis or other infection.
Reactions are usually of a minor nature - irritability, fever up to 39 degrees and redness at the site of vaccination. More serious side effects are very rare.