What is meningococcal?
Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious bacterial infection that can affect people of any age. People with meningococcal disease can become extremely unwell very quickly, thus early diagnosis and treatment is vital. The disease can progress rapidly, beginning with symptoms such as fever and irritability that are easily mistaken for a common cold.
Meningococcal bacteria are transmitted through close prolonged contact with mucus from a person carrying the bacteria; for example, inmate kissing or living in the same household. Transmission is not common and the bacteria do not survive well outside the human body.
Australia has 5 common strains of meningococcal disease that can be prevented through vaccination; Men A, Men B, Men C, Men W-135 and Y. Currently in Australia, strains B, W and Y cause the majority of disease.
Who should get the meningococcal vaccination?
No single vaccine can protect against all strains of meningococcal disease, however different vaccines are available to help protect against the most common ones.
The Australian Government recommends meningococcal vaccination for:
- Infants and children under 2 years old
- Adolescents aged 15 to 19 years
- Adolescents and young adults living together in close quarters
- People who are travelling overseas, especially to places where meningococcal disease is more common
- People who have medical conditions that increase their risk of invasive meningococcal
- People with weakened immune systems
- Laboratory workers who work with the meningococcal bacteria
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 2 months to 19 years
The Meningococcal ACWY vaccination is available from participating pharmacies in Victoria (for people aged 15 years and older) and Queensland (for people aged 10 years and older). A separate Men B vaccine is also available from your General Practitioner.
Is the meningococcal vaccination safe in pregnancy?
The meningococcal vaccination is not routinely recommended for women who are pregnant. The vaccine may be given to pregnant women if they are at risk of the disease and under the close care and advice from their doctor.