Meningococcal B vaccine now free through the Queensland School Immunisation Program

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Invasive meningococcal disease is a rare but severe infection that can cause serious illness, disability, and death. Teenagers and young adults have a higher risk of getting the disease.

What is invasive meningococcal disease?

Invasive meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterial infection.

There are several strains of the bacteria, with A, B, C, W, and Y being the most common.

The disease can progress rapidly, and if it’s not diagnosed and treated quickly, it can lead to serious long term disability or death.

Most people fully recover, but about one-third of children and adolescents who survive meningococcal disease end up with long term complications. These include limb deformities, skin scarring, deafness, and potential loss of brain function.

How it’s spread

Meningococcal bacteria live in the nose and throat of about 10% of healthy people. The bacteria is spread through close contact such as sneezing, coughing, and kissing. The disease is more commonly found in teenagers and young adults.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease has 2 main forms, and you can get symptoms for one or both.

Meningococcal meningitis - where the bacteria infect the lining around the brain and spinal cord.

Meningococcal septicaemia - when the bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause blood poisoning.

Symptoms for both may include headaches, fever, vomiting, neck stiffness, drowsiness, confusion, and sensitivity to bright lights.

With meningococcal meningitis, you may also get a purplish-red rash that doesn’t fade under pressure, such as when you roll a clear glass over the skinit. Don’t wait to see a rash before getting medical help. Sometimes people don’t get a rash, or it appears late.

Getting help

If you or someone around you have any symptoms, get urgent medical help.

Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance if you're worried about your symptoms.

If you're not sure whether to go to an emergency department, call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or see your GP.

My teen had their childhood vaccinations, aren’t they already protected against meningococcal?

No, vaccines for most strains of meningococcal disease weren’t around when your teenager had their childhood vaccinations. Being vaccinated against one strain doesn’t give protection against others.

Read more about meningococcal B on the Vaccination Matters website.

Protecting teenagers from the Meningococcal strains A, B, C, W and Y.

Vaccination is the best protection against meningococcal disease.

We now know that Meningococcal B is the most common cause of illness and death from meningococcal disease in Queensland.

To protect our teens against this strain, the meningococcal B vaccine is now free through the Queensland School Immunisation Program for Year 10 students.

Getting the vaccine

Your teenager can get the vaccine at school. If they don’t go to school and are aged between 15 and 19, they can get it at a range of places. Most GPs, pharmacies and community health clinics offer vaccinations, but you may need to pay a consultation fee.

Find out where to get vaccinated.

About the Queensland School Immunisation Program

The Queensland School Immunisation Program offers free vaccines to year 7 and year 10 students onsite in secondary schools.

Consenting for the school immunisation program

Consenting for the program is easy. Your year 10 student will bring home a consent form for you to fill in and sign, and return to their school.

You can also print the form from the Queensland Government website.

Read more about the Queensland School Immunisation Program on the Queensland Government website.