A FREE vaccine for a deadly strain of meningococcal could soon be available in Australia!
Health Minister Greg Hunt has ordered the nation’s chief medical officer to seriously consider whether vaccinations for meningococcal B strains should be placed on the tax-payer funded National Immunisation Program following the success Britain has experienced since adding it to their schedule.
The review will also assess the benefits of placing the W strain vaccination on the public program following a recent spike in the number of cases.
Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hunt said he issued the directive on his first day as Health Minister when he took over from former minister Sussan Ley in January.
“It is very much a medical assessment and they are going through that assessment,” Mr Hunt said.
“It is being considered by the medical officer.”
Advice on whether the vaccination will be placed on the publicly-funded program could be released by the end of the month but vital data from state trials will be critical to any decision.
Health experts say the vaccination for the meningococcal B strain used in the UK also offered young children significant protection against the W strain.
At this stage children can be vaccinated for five different strains of meningococcal but it is only the C strain vaccine that is available on the National Immunisation Program.
Despite the enormous price tag, parents have been paying up to $450 per for a full vaccination course to immunise their children showing that parents are recognising the risk of leaving their child unvaccinated and doing all they can to protect them demonstrating a desperate need for the vaccine to be made available to everyone. This massive awareness has inevitably lead to a year-long shortage of the vaccination.
Last month Mr Hunt contacted manufacturers demanding extra supplies for Australia amid concerns the pharmaceutical company was prioritising counties which include the vaccination on their immunisation program.
New stocks are now expected to hit shelves this week but the manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has warned parents that the vaccine was likely to sell out quickly.
GSK have also launched a study in South Australia which will see more than 60,000 high school students vaccinated against meningococcal B-strain.
Health groups hope the South Australian study will encourage the Turnbull Government to include the vaccine on the taxpayer-funded National Immunisation Program.
Integral organisations like the Meningitis Centre Australia have been lobbying tirelessly to get the Meningococcal strains of vaccinations on the National Immunisation Program recognising the absolute need and necessity to give our children the best coverage and protection against the potentially deadly disease. In the past they have successfully lobbied for the Meningococcal C and pneumococcal vaccines to be added to the list. Meningococcal can kill in a matter of hours. It is crucial that we make this vaccine available to all.