More vaccines for meningococcal disease

Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter.

PHARMAC’s decision to fund a vaccine to protect young people from meningococcal disease from December 1, is being welcome by the Government.

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

She says 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 December 1, 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.

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 8000 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."

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