This is a tricky discussion that comes up frequently with families at Preston Family Medical. There is the standard vaccination schedule which is fully funded by the government and there there is this Meningitis B vaccination that is not funded but is recommended – what is that about?
Unfortunately, unlike measles, mumps, tetanus which are all just one disease and have one vaccination, meningitis has many strains. The most problematic in Australia are B, C and W. C strain has been reducing a lot as this has been in the funded immunisations since 2003. Funding for the ACWY strains was added to the childhood immunisation in 2018 and a catch up program exists for children under 20years who have not had this vaccination.
Why then is the B strain not included in the funded vaccination when cases are increasing? Although a devastating disease, Men B is rare and the government needs to look at cost versus benefit at a population level. Currently the immunisation panel is that there is not enough evidence to prove the benefit of B strain vaccination, however individuals who want to protect themselves or their children are advised to consider B strain vaccination. The Royal Children’s Hospital Vaccination Education Centre suggests this.
So what is a parent to do? Most importantly is to ensure the standard vaccination schedule is up to date for the child. Then I would rank the fluvax as a second add on vaccination due to the number of cases and how severe that can be. Then consider the cost of the Bexsero vaccination ($120-140 July 2019) and the fact that they need two doses, eight weeks apart. Then consider that although a rare disease, it can be devastating. For myself I have had my own children vaccinated with these extra vaccinations. If you are have a hard time deciding, do come in and discuss with a doctor.
Dr Simon Wilson