Meningcoccal vaccine program continues in Tasmania

Launceston Health Hub has been “flat out” distributing meningcoccal W immunisations, Dr Jerome Muir Wilson said. 

“We’ve already distributed 400 vaccines here in the clinic and I’ve got another 500 parents that are coming in a week or two,” he said.  

More than 43,000 Tasmanians have already taken up the government’s meningcoccal W disease vaccination program, with more free clinics to be held. Public health clinics will be rolled out in to the state’s North and North-West in October. Dates and venues for the clinic are yet to be announced. 

However, Health Minister Michael Ferguson said there was no need to wait for a clinic to get the vaccination.

“Eligible Tasmanians can receive a free vaccine from GPs and authorised pharmacist immunisers,” he said.

“General practitioners and local councils are already delivering additional clinics, with the distribution of vaccines to GPs being statewide, including regional areas.”

He said it remained important for the public to be aware of the symptoms of meningcoccal disease, which include fevers, severe headache, severe muscle pain, and quickly becoming unusually unwell. Late in the illness, there can be a rash. Infants can be lethargic, floppy and feed poorly.

Mr Ferguson acknowledged how big of a roll out the program was. 

“The delivery of the extended form is a very ambitious one, but we’re succeeding,” he said. 

The government hopes to immunise 100,000 young people by the end of the year. 

“We have seen massive up take with doctors all around the state,” Mr Ferguson said. 

“We’re absolutely delighted with the take up rate.”

Opposition spokeswoman Michelle O’Byrne said Labor would have liked to have seen the program rolled out faster. 

“The reality with meningcoccal, whilst there has been a cluster of cases down South, it can occur anywhere at any time, so we would like to see a faster roll out and a far more comprehensive roll out,” she said.  

Ms O’Bryne said she was concerned the government was not use all its available opportunities to roll out the program.

“Certainly schools have always been a tried and true method of getting really good immunisation rates,” she said.  

The program is costing the government between three and four million dollars.