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,Y, W135 . Menveo is the only Quadrivalent vaccination approved in young infants from aged 2 months. Nimenrix was added to the Immunisation schedule on 1/7/18 for children aged 12 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 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 is now currently part of the childhood immunisation program. (1/10/18)
- It is 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, fever, headache, dizziness and nausea. Rare side effects include fits and allergic reactions. Paracetamol is recommended for all children under the age of 2yrs. Give this 30min. prior to the vaccination and repeat it for 2 more doses 6 hours apart after the vaccination even if there is no fever.
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 ACWY Vaccine?
Immunisation should not be given if:
** The administration of Paracetamol with every dose of Bexsero is recommended for all children less than 2 years of age, due to the increased likelihood of fever. Administer the dose 30min. before immunisation. Give
2 more doses 6 hrs. apart even if the child does not have a fever.**
For further information contact the South Australian Immunisation Coordination Unit:
Ph: 8226 7177 Fax: 8226 7197
Further Information is available from SA Health
For Frequently Asked Questions about the new SA Meningococcal B Program (2018) click here.
- 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 ACWY strain of meningococcus.
- Children over 8 weeks of age can be vaccinated. From July 1st 2018 Meningococcal ACWY vaccine has been provided free for children at aged 1yr at our surgery as part of the National Immunisation Programm
- From 1st October 2018 Meningococcal B vaccination will be provided free by the SA Government to children under 12 months with a catchup program for children 1- 4 yrs of age. From 1st February 2019 Adolescents will receive it in Yr 10 with a catchup program for individuals aged 17 - 21 years.
- 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.