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Aboriginal Meningococcal W Immunisation Program


This program will be offered up until 31 December 2018

The Aboriginal Meningococcal W Immunisation Program is in response to an increase in recent months of meningococcal infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis serotype W (MenW) in Central Australia including the APY Lands. 

Eligibility

Aboriginal children and adolescents aged 12 months up to 19 years living in the following areas:

  • Eyre and Far North Region: APY Lands, Marla, Mintabie, Oodnadatta, Coober Pedy, Oak Valley, Yalata, Ceduna, Streaky Bay, Elliston, Port Lincoln, Cummins, Tumby Bay, Cleve, Cowell, Kimba, Wudinna.
  • Flinders and Upper North Region: Maree, Andamooka, Roxby Downs, Leigh Creek, Hawker, Quorn, Port Augusta, Whyalla.


Residents who are away during the program can have MenW vaccination from a local health provider at their own cost, or access the free vaccine on their return to the regions within the program timeframe. 

Where to get immunised

To receive vaccines contact your doctor, local council, community health centre or Aboriginal Health Service to arrange an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North regional meningococcal W vaccination program?

The Aboriginal Meningococcal W (MenW) vaccination program is a once off vaccination program against meningococcal disease for Aboriginal children and adolescents living in the Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North regions.

The program is in response to an increase of meningococcal infection caused by type W bacteria in recent months. The vast majority of cases have occurred in Aboriginal children and adolescents in Central Australia including the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. The regions closest to the outbreak area are being offered the program.

What age groups will be vaccinated as part of the program?

This program is being offered to all Aboriginal children aged between 12 months and 19 years of age.

Which vaccine will be used and what meningococcal infections will it protect me against?

A meningococcal ACWY vaccine, Menveo ®, is being used, which protects against four groups of meningococcal bacteria: A, C, W and Y. Meningococcal W is the type that has been responsible for the recent cases in the Ceduna and Central Australia, including the APY Lands.

How long does it take for me to be protected against meningococcal W infection after I have had the vaccine?

It takes approximately one month for you to be protected against the meningococcal strains covered in the vaccine.

Are the vaccines free?

The vaccine is free to all Aboriginal children aged between 12 months and 19 years of age, living in:

  • Eyre and Far North Region -  APY Lands, Marla, Mintabie, Oodnadatta, Coober Pedy, Oak Valley, Yalata, Ceduna, Streaky Bay, Elliston, Port Lincoln, Cummins, Tumby Bay, Cleve, Cowell, Kimba, Lock, Wudinna.
  • Flinders and Upper North Region - Maree, Andamooka, Roxby Downs, Leigh Creek, Hawker, Quorn, Port Augusta, Whyalla.

Where do I go to get vaccinated?   

The MenW vaccine is available at health clinics and doctor’s clinics within the identified regions until 31 December 2018.

My child/teenager has received a MenW vaccination in the past. Do they need another MenW vaccination?

Children aged 12 months but younger than two years of age and those with medical risk factors will need further MenW vaccinations. We recommend that you discuss this with your doctor, Aboriginal health worker or immunisation nurse.

Anyone aged over two years who does not have medical risk factors for meningococcal infection and has received previously a MenW vaccination does not need another MenW vaccination.

If people are residents of Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North regions are away during this vaccination program, can they have the free MenW vaccination elsewhere in Australia?

No, the vaccination program is only providing free MenW vaccinations in the Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North region. Residents who are away during the program can have MenW vaccination from a local health provider at their own cost, or access the free vaccine on their return to the regions within the program timeframe.

Is it safe to visit Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North regions?

Yes, it is safe to visit the Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North regions. Meningococcal infection is a very rare disease and the risk of contracting it while visiting is very low.

Can visitors or tourists in the Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North region have the vaccination for free?

No. The free vaccination program is for Aboriginal children aged between 12 months and 19 years of age, who are residents of the Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North region only.

Can MenW vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?

Yes. There is no evidence of any problems resulting from the MenW vaccine being given at the same time as another vaccine.

Can I have the MenW vaccine if I am pregnant or breast feeding?

Pregnant women and breastfeeding women can be offered the vaccine.

Who is most at risk from meningococcal disease?  

Meningococcal disease can affect any age group. However, those most at risk of meningococcal disease are children aged four years and younger, particularly Aboriginal children, and teenagers aged between 15 and 19 years. 

How safe and effective is the MenW vaccine?

The vaccine is safe, well tolerated and effective. Studies have shown that the effectiveness of the MenW vaccines is between 80 and 85% in adolescents, and more than 90% in infants.

Why is this regional vaccination program necessary?

In recent months, there has been an increase of meningococcal infection, particularly MenW, in Central Australia including the APY Lands with the vast majority of cases occurring in Aboriginal children and adolescents.

Will you be rolling out the program to other parts of the state and, if not, why not?

The Eyre, Far North, Flinders and Upper North regional meningococcal W vaccination program is being implemented in response to an observed increase in cases in particular geographical areas. There is no plan to roll out the program to other parts of South Australia. Any additional programs will be based on disease trends across the state.

Can the vaccine cause meningococcal disease? 

No. Only the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria can cause meningococcal disease. The vaccine does not contain any live bacteria.

What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?

The symptoms of meningococcal disease can include:

  • fever, headache, neck stiffness,  nausea and vomiting, particularly in older patients
  • drowsiness, confusion and severe muscle or joint pain
  • babies may have fever, rapid breathing, vomiting, irritability, drowsiness, leg pain and altered skin colour.
  • a rash that usually appears late in the illness as red-purple spots or bruises.

If you or someone you know develops symptoms or signs consistent with meningococcal disease, consult your family doctor or the closest hospital emergency department immediately.

For more information, visit the Meningococcal section at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/youvegotwhat.

Who do I contact to find out more information about the program?

You can contact your local doctor with any questions you may have about meningococcal disease. For questions about the regional vaccination program, contact the Communicable Disease Control Branch on 1300 232 272.

Further information

For further information on the Aboriginal Meningococcal W Immunisation Program read the Frequently asked questions – for consumers, contact your doctor or immunisation service provider.

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