The Australian government recently set aside $52 million to provide free meningococcal vaccines to teenagers across the country, after a rise in the deadly disease.
More than one million 14- to 19-year-olds will receive the ACWY meningococcal vaccine over the next four years to protect them against four strains of the disease. Unfortunately, as well as a rise in reported cases, the country has also seen a rise in the number of related deaths. In 2017, there were 382 cases reported nationally with 28 deaths, while in 2016 there were 252 reported cases with 11 deaths.
While this rise in reported cases is high, it’s important to note that meningococcal is a preventable disease. The quad-vaccine is currently already offered to 12-month-olds under the National Immunisation Program and offering the vaccine to teenagers will only help to improve herd immunity against the disease.
With most vaccine-preventable contagious diseases, herd immunity is important. If a greater number of the population is vaccinated against a contagious disease, then it proves difficult for the infectious disease to spread, helping to stop possible outbreaks and epidemics.
What is Meningococcal?
While meningococcal disease is uncommon, it remains a very serious condition. It occurs when the meningococcal bacteria grow in the back of the nose and throat and invade the blood and membranes around the spinal cord and brain. Put simply, the disease is one of the serious causes of meningitis.
The disease can lead to lifelong disability and can also prove to be fatal if it is not diagnosed within 24 hours.
Who Is at Risk?
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but it’s most common in infants less than one year of age, with risk increasing again during adolescence.
The bacteria do not survive for long outside the human body, and the disease is spread through close person-to-person contact such as coughing, sneezing and kissing. Teenagers are at high risk of contracting the strain and passing it onto others because of their close physical interaction and contact with their peers.
The early detection of symptoms is vital in the successful treatment of the disease due to its quick progression. Symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, headaches, neck stiffness, joint pain, dislike of bright lights, nausea, a rash of red-purple spots or bruises and vomiting. If you have not had the meningococcal vaccination and are experiencing any of these symptoms, then contact your health care provider immediately.
The meningococcal vaccination is a proven preventative measure with regards to this serious and contagious disease. To ensure your clinic is well stocked with the meningococcal quad-vaccine, visit Team Med today.
If you’d like any further information about the meningococcal vaccination, please contact our team.