The Hodgman Liberal Government will roll out a free meningococcal W vaccination program in Tasmania for older teenagers aged 15 to 19.
Meningococcal W has increased significantly across Australia in the last two years. Five cases have been reported in Tasmania so far this year.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but severe infection that can cause lifelong disability in up to 20 per cent of cases and death in five to 10 per cent of cases.
Under the new program more than 33,000 15 to 19 year old Tasmanian teenagers will be eligible to receive a four-antigen vaccine, which will provide protection against meningococcal A, C, W and Y strains.
Ten per cent of healthy individuals carry the meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat.
Older teenagers are particularly at risk of carrying and transmitting the bacteria to others.
The bacteria cannot survive outside the body and does not spread easily from shared drinks, food or cigarettes.
Tasmania joins New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia in implementing a meningococcal W vaccination program for older teenagers in 2017 and 2018.
The program will begin during term three of 2017 for students in Year 10, 11 and 12 in public, private and Catholic high schools and colleges.
For older teenagers who have left school to attend further education, training or work, the free vaccine will be available from their GP from August 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018.
The program will continue in 2018 with Year 10 students in high school receiving the vaccine in term one.
The Department is liaising with schools and councils to progress implementation of the program.
For more information about the meningococcal W vaccination program visit: www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/menw
Michael Ferguson, Minister for Health