Coun­cil to aid vac­cine pro­gram

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - SU­SAN OONG and DAVID BENIUK

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.

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