THE CITY of Greater Bendigo has begun rolling out an immunisation program to provide a free meningococcal vaccine for 15-19 year olds.
The vaccine covers the A, C, W and Y strains and will be available until December 31, 2017.
The vaccine has temporarily been included on the Victorian Immunisation Schedule as a public health initiative by the State Government, to combat the recent rise in cases of meningococcal W.
Children who are 12 months old are currently immunised against meningococcal C, as part of the schedule.
The city’s immunisation team will be visiting secondary schools, training providers and La Trobe University, as well as hosting a series of special public immunisation sessions to provide the meningococcal vaccine to eligible young people.
Health and wellbeing director Vicky Mason said meningococcal bacteria lived in the back of the throat.
“The bacteria are passed though prolonged intimate or household contact, such as kissing, coughing or sharing drinks, so young people are at particular risk of contracting the disease,” she said.
“The disease can progress very quickly and can lead to death or permanent disability.
“The best way to protect yourself from the disease is to get vaccinated.”
For details of the public sessions, go to www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/meningococcal