Speak up if we are to get a free jab

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - JANE HANSEN

ANY­ONE who has been af­fected by meningo­coc­cal B needs to tell their story to the Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Benefits Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee if they want the vac­cine to be free.

The PBAC is de­lib­er­at­ing — again — whether to add the meningo­coc­cal B vac­cine Bexsero to the Na­tional Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Pro­gram.

There are five preva­lent strains of meningo­coc­cal in Aus­tralia with A, C, Y, and W strains cov­ered by a free vac­cine. Only the B strain, which cur­rently ac­counts for the ma­jor­ity of cases in Aus­tralia, is not cov­ered. The vac­cine is only avail­able on pri­vate script at a cost of be­tween $120 and $150 a shot with a min­i­mum of two shots re­quired.

Some par­ents have ar­gued that means only the wealthy can af­ford to pro­tect their child, Eliza Ault-Con­nell from Meningo­coc­cal Aus­tralia said.

“We strongly en­cour­age in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies who have been touched by meningo­coc­cal dis­ease to make their voices heard,” she said.

“If you be­lieve every Aus­tralian child should have fair and equal ac­cess to the B vac­cine, we en­cour­age you to make a sub­mis­sion.”

In July, 20-month-old Don­ald Peach died af­ter con­tract­ing B-strain meningo­coc­cal dis­ease.

The toddler was fully vac­ci­nated on the gov­ern­ment sched­ule but his par­ents, Amy and Don­ald Peach, of Quirindi, south of Tam­worth, had no idea there was a vac­cine against meningo­coc­cal B.

Mrs Peach said she is in the process of mak­ing a sub­mis­sion. “I don’t want any­one to go through what we did,” she said.

The PBAC will make its de­ci­sion in Novem­ber.

Fed­eral health min­is­ter Greg Hunt has pledged to fast­track Bexsero if it is ap­proved for in­clu­sion by the PBAC. TO MAKE A SUB­MIS­SION GO TO: WWW1. HEALTH. GOV. AU

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