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Free meningococcal vaccine for WA children

Photo: Free meningococcal vaccine for WA kids
The West Australian government is funding a free meningococcal vaccine for children aged one to four after six people died following a spike in cases last year.

A free meningococcal vaccine is being offered by the West Australian government for children aged between one and four after the deaths of six people during a spike in infections last year.

A total of 46 WA cases of meningococcal were reported in 2017, double the number in 2016 and the most in any year since 2005, with three more cases diagnosed so far this year.

The vaccine, available free from Tuesday, will inoculate children against the A, C, W and Y serogroups of the disease. The state-government also funds a vaccination program through schools and universities for teens aged between 17 and 19.
Health Minister Roger Cook says vaccination funding is the responsibility of the federal government, but his government couldn't sit back and let the disease "wreak havoc" on the community.

"Meningococcal is not a common disease in our community ... however we know when there is an outbreak it is virulent and it is a killer," Mr Cook told reporters.

He says the lack of action from the federal government could be because there were fewer cases of the potentially deadly W serogroup strain on the east coast.

"If the federal government will not respond to this crisis in our community then the McGowan government will," he said.

A single shot of the vaccine will cover a child for about three to four years.

It will cost the state $5.7 million for one year.

Without the subsidy, parents can shell out more than $100 dollars for a single shot of the vaccine.


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