‘Very stupid’ to re­ject vac­cines

The West Australian - - NEWS - Steve But­ler

The par­ents of high-pro­file WA meningo­coc­cal vic­tim Amanda Young have chal­lenged anti-vac­ci­na­tion “nut­ters” to spend a day in their lives, 20 years af­ter their daugh­ter’s death.

Amanda died on Oc­to­ber 12, 1997, af­ter con­tract­ing the dis­ease at an in­ter-var­sity row­ing re­gatta in Pen­rith, NSW. It was a month af­ter the bud­ding ath­lete and star stu­dent’s 18th birth­day.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view to mark the an­niver­sary of her death, Barry and Lor­raine Young made a raw plea to of­fi­cials and par­ents to push stronger vac­ci­na­tion poli­cies and aware­ness.

They did not want oth­ers to suf­fer the pain they had car­ried for two decades.

“I’d like to swap places with them,” Mr Young said, lament­ing that fact the vac­cine for the C-strain that killed his daugh­ter was not avail­able un­til five years af­ter she died.

“Vac­cine has got the po­ten­tial to put meningo­coc­cal out of busi­ness. Amanda Young’s fa­ther

“That’s re­ally the only ul­ti­mate an­swer.”

As three new meningo­coc­cal cases, all dif­fer­ent strains, were re­ported this week, Mrs Young agreed.

“You get the anti-vaxxers who say it’s not good . . . they’re nut­ters,” she said.

“Any­body who doesn’t make them­selves avail­able for some­thing that is so use­ful are very, very stupid. So you just ig­nore them and keep go­ing. Amanda had ev­ery vac­ci­na­tion that was avail­able right up to the time she died. Aware­ness and knowl­edge of the dis­ease is im­por­tant and to be vac­ci­nated, that’s the only way.”

This week’s new cases of meningo­coc­cal dis­ease — two chil­dren and an el­derly adult — took the num­ber of those in­fected in WA to 16 since July, in­clud­ing Al­bany 19-year-old Lloyd Dun­ham, who died in Au­gust and Kal­go­or­lie man Dean Haynes, 20, who sur­vived.

A vac­cine against C strains of the dis­ease is pro­vided free to chil­dren at 12 months. A vac­cine against meningo­coc­cal B in­fec­tion and a com­bined vac­cine for A, C, W and Y strains are avail­able on pre­scrip­tion.

Teenagers between 15 and 19 can get the vac­cine free un­til De­cem­ber as part of a funded State-wide pro­gram.

Mr Young said he had been en­cour­aged by in­di­ca­tions from Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt that fund­ing could soon be made avail­able for the $65 ACWY vac­cine to be given free to chil­dren from 12 months of age. He also hoped vac­ci­na­tion for the B-strain, which comes in four doses at $125 each, could also be in­cluded. De­tails of where 15-19-year-olds can get a free meningo­coc­cal ACWY vac­cine are at http:// healthywa.wa.gov.au/Ar­ti­cles/ J_M/Meningo­coc­cal-vac­cine

‘Vac­cine has got the po­ten­tial to put meningo­coc­cal out of busi­ness.’

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