Parents should consider paying hundreds of dollars to vaccinate their children against the potentially deadly B-strain of meningococcal disease, South Australian health authorities have said.
The issue is in the spotlight again after this week’s death in an Adelaide hospital of 16-month-old toddler Charlie Mason.
Vaccinating against the C-strain of meningococcal has been part of the free National Immunisation Program since 2003, with successful results.
But Eliza Ault Connell, director of Meningococcal Australia and a survivor of the disease when she was a teenager, said the danger was from other strains.
“We see just a handful of meningococcal C cases now in Australia,” she said.
“Meningococcal B is now the most common strain and that makes up around 90 per cent of all cases, but also emerging now is the W-strain.
“There are vaccinations available now for both of those strains.”
But she said three approaches to government to put the B-strain vaccination on the National Immunisation Program had been knocked back.
“It’s just come back as not being cost-effective enough,” she said.
SA Health chief medical officer Professor Paddy Phillips urged parents to consider paying $125 per injection for the four shots needed to protect their children.
“The vaccine’s very effective and, if you’ve got the money, it would be something to seriously, very seriously consider,” he said.
“It is a rare condition but it is a tragic condition, obviously [it] can be fatal.”
South Australian couple Sarah and Aaron Parkyn started a petition seeking to have the B-strain vaccination added to the national register after their three-year-old daughter Jazmyn had meningococcal disease
The petition was presented to Federal Parliament earlier in the year.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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