Turnbull maintains deadly silence on Menin W funding

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Melbourne: The Andrews Labor Government has stepped in to ensure thousands of Victorian teenagers are protected from Meningococcal W, with the roll out of life saving vaccinations.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy on Monday (June 26) visited Werribee Secondary College and met with high school students –among the latest to receive their vaccinations under the Labor Government’s free school-based regime.

The Victorian Labor Government has been forced to go it alone to deliver vaccinations for 15 to 19 year olds because Malcolm Turnbull has failed to get his act together and fund a national response through the National Immunisations Program, an official press release said.

So far, 51,000 doses have been distributed to local council immunisation services to deliver in Victorian schools, under the $7.1 million program.

There has been a concerning spike in the number of Meningococcal W cases recently, with 48 reported in 2016 – up from just one in 2013. The W strain is now the most dominant strain Meningococcal disease, which can be deadly.

A social media awareness campaign will also soon get underway, teaching young people about Meningococcal disease and how to get vaccinated. Any teen aged 15 to 19 who misses their school-based immunisation day or doesn’t attend school can go to their local GP or health clinic for their free vaccine until 31 December.

All young people receiving the vaccine will be protected against the W strain of the disease, as well as three other strains – A, C and the increasing Y, the release said.

This age group was chosen based on the recommendation of national immunisation experts, as teens are at most risk of meningococcal disease and more likely to spread the illness to others.

Meningococcal bacteria are passed from person to person by regular, close, prolonged household and intimate contact. In a small number of people, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause invasive meningococcal disease, which can develop very quickly and causes death in five to 10 per cent of cases.

Without funding, people in Victoria and across the country face significant out-of-pocket costs to receive the vaccine and protect themselves and their families on private prescription from this potentially deadly disease. (TIW)