Meningococcal disease can develop quickly and can be fatal within hours if medical attention is not urgently addressed. The cause of the disease is due to the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. These bacteria live in the nose or throat and can spread through sneezing, coughing, sharing drinks etc. Everyone is at risk of developing the disease, however, the bacteria do not survive for long outside the human body and hence, it is more likely to infect within the same household or partners. Similarly, international travellers, immunocompromised patients and smokers also have an increased risk.
What are the symptoms of Meningococcal disease?
The main symptoms of Meningococcal disease in adults are:
- Purple or red rash (does not turn back into skin colour after being pressed on)
- Stiff neck
- Nausea or vomiting
The main symptoms of Meningococcal disease in young children or babies are:
- High moaning cry
- Refusing food/feed
How is Meningococcal disease diagnosed and treated?
It is diagnosed via questioning of patient symptoms and blood, spinal or joint fluid testing. Treating of the disease generally involves intensive care support and intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.
How can I protect myself from Meningococcal disease?
Fortunately, there are multiple vaccinations available for meningococcal to protect us against the disease. The vaccination recommend depends on age, ethnicity, medical conditions, lifestyle and occupation. Consult your health care professional for further advice.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Meningococcal vaccines are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, unless advised by your doctor un special circumstances.
Who can get vaccinated at National Pharmacies?
South Australia: Pharmacists can administer the Meningococcal ACWY and Meningococcal B vaccine to anyone aged 10 years and over.
Victoria: Pharmacists are able to administer the Meningococcal ACWY vaccine to persons over the age of 15 years. They are not able to administer the Meningococcal B vaccine.
New South Wales: Pharmacists are able to administer the Meningococcal ACWY & Meningococcal B vaccine to persons 5 years and over.
Meningococcal Vaccination Pricing: Members from $79.90 per dose, Retail Price from $92.10 per dose.
Health Direct (2018). Meningococcal disease. [online] Healthdirect.gov.au. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/meningococcal-disease.
The Australian Immunisation Handbook. (2022). Meningococcal disease. [online] Available at: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/contents/vaccine-preventable-diseases/meningococcal-disease.