Let’s catch up: free meningococcal vaccination for young Canberrans

Students at the Australian National University (ANU) and University of Canberra (UC) will have the opportunity to receive their free meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccination at clinics taking place at second semester Market Days.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but severe infection that occurs when meningococcal bacteria invade the body from the throat or nose and enter the bloodstream. The disease can progress very quickly and can lead to death or permanent disability. Meningococcal disease is caused by multiple strains of meningococcal bacteria.

The MenACWY vaccine protects against the meningococcal A, C, W and Y strains.

ACT Health Public Health Physician Dr Vanessa Johnston said young adults between 16-19 years old were being targeted with a catch-up program for the MenACWY vaccine in 2018 as they are at increased risk of contracting meningococcal disease.

“We know that young adults and older teenagers are more likely to carry the bacteria in their nose and throat and more likely to spread it to others. That’s why we are targeting young adults as part of a catch-up program,” Dr Johnston said.

“The vaccine clinic ACT Health is running today at ANU, and next week at UC, is about providing an easy and convenient way for young people to guard themselves against meningococcal disease.

“They’re one of a range of strategies we have in place to ensure we reach as many young people as possible with the vaccine.

“Young people who are eligible for the vaccine but not able to attend the vaccine clinics on their campus can also receive the free vaccine through their GP.”

The vaccine will be free for 16-19 years old only until the end of this year. The ACT government funded schools-based MenACWY vaccination program for Year 10 students was rolled out earlier in the year and will continue in 2019.

“Uptake figures among Year 10 students so far this year has been very promising, with 79 per cent receiving the vaccine in semester one – equating to 3,958 doses,” Dr Johnston said.

“However, we estimate only 10 per cent of 16-19 years old in the ACT have received the vaccine through their GP to date.

“The best way to prevent meningococcal disease is by getting vaccinated. We hope the university Market Day vaccine clinics being held over the next two weeks help us to increase the number of young people vaccinated in our community.”

The vaccine clinic at ANU took place today as part of their Market Day. ACT Health staff will be visiting UC next on Wednesday, 1 August as part of their Market Day.

For more information on Meningococcal visit: http://www.health.act.gov.au/our-services/immunisation/adolescents

Statement ends

Published date: 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018