Senior students to be protected against meningococcal
High school students in Bass Coast are doing their bit for the community by getting the free meningococcal vaccine.
To combat a recent rise in cases of deadly strains of meningococcal disease, the Victorian Government has introduced a free, time-limited vaccination program for young people aged 15 to 19 in Victoria.
Bass Coast Shire Council’s immunisation nurses are rolling out the vaccine to students in Years 10, 11 and 12 at local secondary schools.
Students at Wonthaggi Secondary College, Bass Coast Specialist School and Newhaven College will be offered the free vaccine in the coming weeks, before the program ends on 31 December.
To receive the vaccine at secondary school, 15, 16 and 17 year olds need consent from a parent or guardian, while 18 and 19 year olds can provide their own consent.
Parents or guardians must complete and return the consent card that eligible young people bring home from school.
Bass Coast Deputy Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari, said local young people are mostly welcoming of immunisation initiatives in spite of the “needle factor”.
“The more young people and their parents take up the offer to protect themselves, the more effectively we will be able to halt the spread of this very serious disease,” Cr Tessari said.
There were 48 cases of the previously rare ‘W’ strain in 2016, up from just one in 2013. Cases of the ‘Y’ strain are also increasing. Young people receiving the meningococcal vaccine will be protected against the ‘W’ strain of the disease, as well as three other strains (‘A’, ‘C’ and ‘Y’).
Fifteen to 19 year olds are the most common aged group to carry meningococcal disease.
Although uncommon, meningococcal disease can become life-threatening very quickly. After initial flu-like symptoms, which can include sensitivity to light, neck stiffness, nausea vomiting or mental confusion, a rash of red or purple pinprick spots or larger bruises can appear.
If somebody close to you experiences these signs and symptoms, and seems sicker than you would expect with a normal infection, seek medical help immediately.
Survivors often lose fingers, toes or limbs. Invasive meningococcal disease causes death in about five to 10 per cent of cases.
The vaccine is safe and effective and free until 31 December 2017 at scheduled school vaccination days, Council immunisation sessions or from local GPs.
For health advice call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24, or call 000 in an emergency.
For more information about local immunisation initiatives, contact Council on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211.
To find out more about meningococcal disease or the free vaccine program, visit www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/menvax.
Vaccine programs will be held in schools on:
- Tuesday, 5 September – Newhaven College Boys Home Road Campus
- Thursday, 7 September – Bass Coast Specialist School
- Thursday, 21 September – Wonthaggi McBride Campus