Free Meningococcal ACWY vaccine

PHARMAC, Te Pātaka Whaioranga has announced that anyone aged 13 to 25 years who lives in boarding school hostels, tertiary education halls of residence or military barracks is eligible to receive the meningococcal ACWY vaccine free of charge, until 30 November 2021.

After this time, only those entering their first year of living in these institutions can be vaccinated for meningococcal ACWY free of charge.

In New Zealand, infants and children aged under five years and adolescents aged 15–19 years have an increased risk of meningococcal disease. Māori, particularly infants aged under one year, and Pacific peoples have a higher risk of meningococcal disease than other ethnic groups. Over 2018–2019, a high rate of group B and groups C, Y and W disease cases were also seen in young adults aged 20–29 years.

The initial symptoms are difficult to distinguish from other infectious illnesses, particularly flu-like illnesses. Symptoms usually progress quickly to a severe illness, often within 24 hours. A person with meningococcal disease may develop:

  • Meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain)
  • Septicaemia (blood infection)
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)

Information about the harmful impacts of the disease can be found here - Meningococcal disease | Immunisation Advisory Centre(external link)

For more information about the vaccine visit the Immunisation Advisory Centre’s online FAQ resource for the meningococcal vaccine(external link)

The vaccine can be accessed through your local GP, free of charge.

Please note that the ACWY vaccine does not provide protection against meningococcal B disease. As a result, it is important to consider meningococcal disease even in people who have been vaccinated if they present with symptoms consistent with meningococcal disease.

The meningococcal B vaccine Bexsero can be purchased privately.

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