Victorian teenagers aged 15 or 16 are being encouraged to take advantage of the Andrews Labor Government’s free meningococcal vaccine program as the springtime peak period for the disease nears.
The warning comes as new data shows meningococcal cases in Victoria are on the decline. The number of confirmed cases has dropped by 36 per cent, with 37 cases reported this year compared with 58 for the same period in 2017.
But while the Labor Government’s $1.5 million free meningococcal ACWY vaccination program is seeing more Victorian kids protected, Scott Morrison and the Federal Liberals are still refusing to follow expert advice and fund the life-saving vaccine through the National Immunisation Program for this high-risk adolescent age group.
Whether it’s in Canberra or here in Victoria, the Federal Liberals can’t help but take an axe to health. Scott Morrison is trying to ram through a dud funding deal that will short-change Victorian hospitals billions of dollars, while the Victorian Liberals cut billions from health when they were last in power.
In 10 per cent of cases, meningococcal disease is fatal, with death occurring within 24 to 48 hours of diagnosis. About a fifth of those who survive the disease are left with permanent disability such as brain damage, or the loss of fingers, toes or limbs.
Young people aged 15 or 16 are the age cohort most likely to be carriers of the disease and are therefore at greater risk of spreading it to others.
The free vaccine is available for Victorian teenagers aged 15 or 16 up until the end of the year, either at school immunisation sessions, local councils or at the local GP.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“Reported cases of meningococcal are on the decline thanks to our free vaccination program but there’s more work to do – and we want everyone in the at-risk cohort to be protected.”
“It’s time Scott Morrison and the Liberals put patients first and protected young people with a free vaccination program across Australia.”
“By protecting young people most at risk of contracting meningococcal, we’re also protecting the wider community from this deadly disease.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020