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More vaccines for meningococcal disease

The Government welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund a vaccine to protect young people from meningococcal disease from 1 December this year.

“Meningococcal disease is a serious threat which people at higher risk should be protected from,” says Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter.

“The combined pharmaceutical budget was increased by $110 million dollars this year. That money goes directly towards improving the health of New Zealanders, including the boost announced today.

“I’m very pleased to recognise that PHARMAC will fund a meningococcal catch-up programme for one year from 1 December 2019, with young people already resident in close-living situations being eligible to receive one funded dose of the ACWY vaccine.

“Fortunately, cases of meningococcal are still relatively rare, but the consequences can be extremely serious, even fatal, and we know young people in close living conditions are at greater risk.

“This funding will cover people aged from 13 to 25 in their first year of institutional close-living situations, such as boarding school hostels, halls of residence and military barracks. It also includes prisons.

“Around 8,000 young people will be eligible for the vaccine each year – with around 35,000 eligible during the first-year catch-up period.

“New Zealand sees a number of meningococcal cases in our young people every year. The latest figures show 120 cases in 2019 to date, sadly with eight deaths. Around half of these cases were in the W, C and Y strains.

“This is an important initiative that will save lives,” Julie Anne Genter said.

Background:

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes two very serious illnesses: meningitis (an infection of the membranes that cover the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning).

More information is available from the Ministry of Health: https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/meningococcal-disease-including-meningitis


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