The WA Minister of Health, Mr John Day has launched the Meningococcal ACWY vaccination program for 15-19 year olds.
What is the Meningococcal ACWY program?
The Meningococcal ACWY Vaccination Program is in response to the recent increase in meningococcal infection caused by a particular type of the bacteria, ‘serogroup W’
This program will be offered to those aged 15-19 years.
Why is the program targeting 15-19 year olds?
Some of the highest rates of meningococcal carriage and illness occur among 15-19 year olds and this age group can transmit the bacteria to people who are at increased risk of infection, including young children. The rationale for vaccinating 15-19 years olds is to both decrease illness from meningococcal W in this age group and to prevent carriage. Reducing carriage in this age group will reduce transmission of the bacteria to others and help prevent infections within the larger community.
Why is this targeted vaccination program necessary?
Although numbers are low, meningococcal W cases have been increasing annually since 2013 with one case notified in that year and 14 cases in 2016. Prior to 2013, serogroup W was uncommon with only six cases diagnosed in the 13 year period from 2000 to 2012. It is anticipated that this program will reduce the spread of this potentially life threatening infection with the community.
How will the program work?
In 2017, the program will entail school-based immunisation in Year 10, 11 and 12 with additional vaccination clinics conducted at community health clinics to capture 18-19 year olds and other age-eligible persons not attending high school. In 2018 and 2019 the program will target incoming Year 10 students only. Parents can expect to receive meningococcal W vaccination consent materials through their childs school in Terms 2 and 3. They are urged to complete the form and return to their childs school promptly so their child can receive the vaccine.
Please note – General Practice will not be involved in the implementation of this program.
How long will the program run?
The WA program is initially planned to operate for three years. This time-limited program could be terminated earlier if it is replaced by a national program, or at the end of the three-year period if a reduction in meningococcal disease in WA were to indicate it was no longer necessary.
Which vaccine will be used?
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine will be used. This vaccine protects against four groups of meningococcal bacteria: A, C, W and Y. The conjugate meningococcal ACWY vaccine Nimenrix® supplied in Australia by Pfizer, will be used in this program.
How effective is the meningococcal ACWY vaccine?
The vaccine is safe and effective. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of the meningococcal ACWY vaccines is between 80 to 85 per cent in adolescents. Meningococcal ACWY vaccination programs have been implemented in adolescents aged 13-15 years in UK since 2015, and adolescents aged 11-12 years in the US since 2005, and the vaccine has been found to be safe and effective.
More information on the meningococcal disease can be found on this link http://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/J_M/Meningococcal-disease
If you have any further queries, please contact your local public health unit on 9222 8588.
PLEASE NOTE – GENERAL PRACTICE WILL NOT BE INVOLVED IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS PROGRAM.