A free, one-year school-based Meningococcal W vaccination program will begin in term two of the 2017 school year for Victorian adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.

Minister for Health, The Hon. Jill Hennessy MP today announced the $7.1 million program to protect young Victorian from the deadly Meningococcal W strain.

In recent years the prevalence of the W strain – one of the main meningococcal strains – has increased significantly across Australia, with Victoria experiencing 48 cases in 2016, up from just one in 2013. 

The 15 to 19 year age group was chosen based on the recommendation of national immunisation experts, as adolescents are at increased risk of meningococcal disease and more likely to spread the disease to others because of their social behaviours.

Meningococcal bacteria are passed from person to person by regular, close, prolonged household and intimate contact. In a small number of people, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause invasive meningococcal disease, which can develop very quickly and causes death in about five to 10 per cent of cases.

More information

Chief Health Officer advisory - updated

The Australian immunisation handbook

Better Health Channel

Media release