Under the NSW Meningococcal W Response Program, 17 and 18-year-olds will receive a four-antigen vaccine, which provides protection against the A, C, W and Y strains.
Immunisation experts believe this age group is particularly at risk because of their physical closeness with peers, including coughing, sneezing and kissing.
Funded by the government, the program will start in term two and be expanded to cover other high school students in the following years.
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the government would do whatever possible to protect young people against Meningococcal W and other strains.
“The NSW Government is now allocating $9 million for this vaccination program in its first year, which will see 180,000 vulnerable teenagers in all high schools eligible to be vaccinated,” Mr Hazzard said.
Meningococcal W has become a prominent strain nationally and in NSW, with the state’s notifications almost tripling since 2015.
Over the last decade, the W strain has had an eight per cent mortality rate compared with a four per cent rate for other strains.
If any Year 11 and 12 students miss out on the vaccine at school, they will be able to get the vaccine for free from their GP later in the year.
For more information about the program, visit the Department of Health website or call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.