A meningococcal vaccine which covers for strains of the horror disease will be free for teens from next year.
The meningococcal A, C W and Y vaccine is being added to the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in April 2019, with the jab free for students aged 14 to 16 years under a school-based program.
Teenagers aged 5 to 19 years, who haven’t already been given the shot in school, will be able to receive it through a GP catch-up program.
More one million teenagers are expected to get the free vaccine as part of a $52 million program.
Although rare, meningococcal is a very serious disease that occurs when meningococcal bacteria from the throat or nose invades the body.
The announcement of the free vaccine for teenagers follows a spike in invasive and fatal meningococcal cases across the country.
There were 382 meningococcal cases reported in 2017. This compares to 252 in 2016 and 182 in 2015.
Deaths associated with meningococcal have also risen, with 28 fatalities in 2017. There were 11 deaths in 2016 and 12 deaths in 2015.
Those lucky enough to survive meningococcal can suffer devastating effects. This includes loss of arms and legs, deformed arms and legs, scars, blurry vision, deafness, headaches and learning difficulties.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt has urged parents to take advantage of the free vaccine.
The announcement of the free vaccine comes after the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) advised to list the meningococcal A, C, W and Y vaccine on the NIP for adolescents.
It also comes after a ACWY meningococcal vaccine was made free for 12-month-old children on July 1.
While teenagers and infants can now have a free ACWY meningococcal vaccination, they aren’t protected against meningococcal B.
Meningococcal Australia has been pushing to have strain B vaccines, currently priced between $120 and $155 per dose, made free.
For more details about the free meningococcal vaccine for teens, click HERE