News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


PHARMAC widening access to the meningococcal ACWY vaccine

14 November 2019

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine will be available free from next month for young people in close living situations.

The vaccination will be funded for an estimated 35,000 people, aged between 13 and 25, who live in boarding school hostels, tertiary education halls of residence, military barracks and prisons. After the first year of funding, free vaccinations will only be available to people entering their first year of living in such institutions, which PHARMAC estimates is about 8,000 young people per year.

“We know that reducing the spread of meningococcal disease is important to New Zealanders and it’s important to us too. It’s great when we can make a vaccine available to more people,” says Dr Pete Murray, PHARMAC deputy medical director.

“Our clinical experts told us that teenagers and young adults living in close living situations are one of the highest risk populations which is why we’ve targeted this group.”

The bacterium that causes meningitis is generally carried by people aged 13 to 25 years. Even if they have no symptoms, carriers can infect those around them. Vaccinating this age group would protect young people, decrease the number of carriers and help reduce the spread of meningococcal disease in this at-risk population.

Vaccination is an important way to help prevent the spread of diseases in our communities. Over the past five years PHARMAC has made more vaccinations free including one to prevent babies getting chickenpox, one to prevent older people getting shingles and widened access to the HPV immunisation to include males aged between nine and 26.

Applications for the meningococcal vaccine to be funded for other groups of people are still being considered, as is the funding of meningococcal B vaccine.


Meningococcal disease is caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacterium. Meningococcal bacteria are commonly carried in the nose and throat, and do not usually cause disease. Carriage rates are highest in teenagers and young adults.

The bacterium can be spread from carriers or people with meningitis to other people by coughing, sneezing or contact with saliva. Meningococcus is transmitted from person to person through aerosol droplets, respiratory secretions and saliva, so there is risk to family or whānau members of contracting the disease and it may spread through the household and community.

Occasionally an individual who is carrying the bacterium may develop severe disease such as meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain) or septicaemia (blood infection). People who survive meningococcal disease may have long term consequences, including skin scarring, amputation of limbs and extremities, hearing loss, seizures or brain injury.

Adolescents and young adults who live in close proximity to each other in multi-residential institutions are particularly at risk of meningococcal disease due to the ease of transmission from person to person.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>

Howard Davis: Anna Coddington Beams

Anna Coddington's thin, wispy vocals fit her songs beautifully, providing a wonderful lilting quality that pervades her latest album, producing instant ear worms. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>

Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland