Southern River resident: Education for meningococcal B prevention needed

Nessie Srouji educatesstudents on good hygiene                                                                   at Smarties Child Care Centre in Gosnells. d443220
Nessie Srouji educatesstudents on good hygiene at Smarties Child Care Centre in Gosnells. d443220

SOUTHERN River resident Barry Young says it is now more important than ever to educate the community about the symptoms of meningococcal B.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recently decided not to recommend the meningococcal B vaccine for inclusion on the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

If it were included on the NIP, the Government would have subsidised the vaccine, saving parents a bill of up to $500 to immunise their children.

Babies require four shots before the age of two. Each shot costs $125.

This month a baby and a teenager were the latest meningococcal cases to be reported in WA, bringing the total number of cases in the state this year to 13.

Barry and Lorraine Young, from the Amanda Young Foundation, have campaigned for the vaccine to be included on the NIP for the past two years since it was licensed in Australia.

Mr Young said the PBAC’s decision meant it was almost impossible for a rare disease to be recommended for the NIP.

“The PBAC decision makes the AYF (Amanda Young Foundation) education and information program all that more important.

“In the absence of a national immunisation program and the herd immunity which it could deliver, the only form of defence against meningococcal B is community and medical knowledge of the symptoms and early treatment.”

Mr and Mrs Young helped to introduce the meningococcal C vaccine to Australia in 2003.

Their daughter Amanda died of meningococcal C in 1997 at the age of 18.

Since meningococcal C was made available on the NIP it has virtually been eliminated.