Council to aid vaccine program
THE Derwent Valley Council is helping the Department of Health and Human Services to provide meningococcal vaccines to the community.
All Tasmanians under the age of 21 are eligible for a free vaccination against meningococcal as the State Government rushes to respond to the growing health concern.
Federal Health Minister Michael Ferguson said last week that any Tasmanian born after August 1, 1997, would be able to receive the vaccine against four strains — A, C, W and Y — of the potentially deadly disease.
The council’s intention is to hold free meningococcal vaccination sessions for members of the community aged between six weeks and 21 years (born after 1 August 1997).
The council will make an announcement about the time and place of these sessions as the vaccines become available.
The council will not provide vaccinations for meningococcal B, which is only available on private prescription.
The council advised residents to contact a local doctor or pharmacist to arrange a vaccination for this strain.
A fact sheet on meningococcal disease is available at www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/communicable_dis-eases_prevention_unit/infec-tious_diseases/meningococcaldisease
The vaccination program follows a further two cases of meningococcal confirmed in the Hobart area last week, taking the total to five in the past two weeks.
A 36-year-old man and another man aged in his 70s were each in a stable condition and were receiving treatment at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Preliminary testing indicated the men had contracted the W strain of the disease.
The cases did not appear to be linked, either to each other or the three other recent cases.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Rose Beltz died earlier this month after contracting the disease, while a three-monthold baby remains in the Royal in a stable condition.
Derwent Valley Medical Centre General Practitioner Lester Pepingco said free vaccinations for Tasmanians under 21 were the best way to prevent further spread of the disease.
“The rate of meningococcal disease is highest in children under 12 months old, followed by young adults 16-23,” Dr Pepingco said.