The NSW Government will provide an additional $3.6 million to extend the NSW Meningococcal W Response Program to students in Years 10 and 11 to protect against the rising threat of the W strain. The strain has an eight per cent mortality rate compared to four per cent for other strains.
$17 million has been invested into the program since it was introduced in 2017 for students in Years 11 and 12. The free vaccine has been provided to more than 200,000 teenagers to date.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the meningococcal vaccination program targets upper high school students as they are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
“Just one dose of this vaccine provides strong, long-term protection while building immunity in the community and helping prevent the spread of this crippling disease,” Mr Hazzard said.
“This vaccine has the added benefit of protection against the A, C and Y strains, which don’t occur as frequently but have equally devastating consequences.”
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said early treatment for meningococcal disease is vital.
“We’re heading towards early spring when people are most at risk and we tend to see a rise in case numbers,” Dr Chant said.
“If you experience symptoms including a sudden onset of fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, joint pain or rash of red-purple spots, go straight to your nearest emergency department to seek help. Acting quickly can save your life.”