Meningococcal vaccination changes: what you need to know

Meningococcal vaccination: baby being immunised
Babies in South Australia will be the first in the nation to get free meningococcal B disease vaccinations.

It’s the first state to introduce a free vaccination program against the potentially deadly disease, which usually costs families up to $500 to immunise against.

It comes as nation-wide immunisation changes come into effect, including a new vaccine protecting against 4 types of meningococcal disease.

Free vaccinations for SA children

The free meningococcal B immunisations are for South Australian children aged up to 12 months, and there’s a catch-up program for kids aged under four-years-old.

“Contrary to what we have seen nationally, instances of meningococcal B disease have not declined in South Australia over the past 18 years and it has predominantly affected children, adolescents and young adults,โ€ said SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade.

“Meningococcal infection is a devastating disease that can cause death, and for many survivors, leads to permanent disability and other long-term effects. It currently costs parents up to $500 for a full vaccination course to immunise their children against meningococcal B โ€“ a cost which is out of reach for many.”

From October 1,ย meningococcal B vaccinations will be available for babies aged six weeks to one year, and a childhood catch-up program for children aged up to four years.

Nation-wide immunisation updates

Meanwhile, July 1 has heralded changes to the vaccines given to children at 12 and 18-months of age as part of the National Immunisation Program:

  • a pneumococcal vaccine is now offered to all children at 12 months of age (moved from 6 months of age).
  • a new vaccine protecting against 4 types (ACWY) of meningococcal disease (up from one) will be offered to all children at 12 months of age.
  • a vaccine protecting against Haemophilus influenza type b will be offered to all children aged 18 months of age.

More information is available via the Department of Health.