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Meningococcal ACWY Strain Vaccinations: what you need to know

Did you know that there are 13 strains or serogroups of meningococcal bacteria? Thankfully, it is a vaccine-preventable disease. You can be immunised against strains A, C, W and Y.

What is meningococcal disease and am I at risk?

Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by meningococcal bacteria (Neisseria meningitides). It is life-threatening but uncommon. About 10 per cent of the population carry meningococcal bacteria in their throat without becoming unwell. These people are known as ‘carriers’ and can pass the disease on to someone else. Meningococcal bacteria are passed from person to person by close, prolonged contact. In a small number of people, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause invasive meningococcal disease. This can develop very quickly and causes death in about five to 10 per cent of cases.

While most people with meningococcal infection fully recover, some people who survive can develop long-term health complications including limb deformity, skin scarring, deafness and possible loss of brain function. Meningococcal W disease has a higher death rate than meningococcal C and meningococcal B infections and may be fatal in about 1 in 10 cases.

Immunisation against meningococcal bacteria is the best protection against meningococcal disease

The following people are at risk:

  • Infants and young children, particularly those aged less than two years
  • Adolescents aged 15 to 19 years
  • People who have close household contact with those who have meningococcal disease and who have not been immunised
  • People who smoke (currently or in the immediate past) and are aged 15 to 24 years 
  • People who are travelling to places, such as sub-Saharan Africa, that have epidemics caused by serogroups A, C, W and Y 
  • Pilgrims to the annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabian authorities require a valid certificate of vaccination to enter the country
  • People who work in a laboratory and who handle meningococcal bacteria
  • People with HIV
  • People who have had a haematopoietic stem cell transplant

I’ve already had meningococcal disease. Am I immune?

Even if you have had meningococcal disease, you are still advised to be immunised against it. If you have had the disease, it does not mean you will develop lifelong immunity.

Should pregnant women be immunised against Meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal vaccines are not usually recommended for women who are pregnant, but they might be given if your doctor thinks your situation puts you at risk of the disease.

What are the side effects of the meningococcal ACWY vaccine?

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is effective and safe, although all medications can have unwanted side effects. Side effects from this vaccine are uncommon and are usually mild, but may include:

  • localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • occasionally, an injection-site lump that may last many weeks (treatment is not needed)
  • low-grade temperature (fever)
  • children being unsettled, irritable, tearful, or generally unhappy, drowsy and tired.

Where can I get the meningococcal ACWY vaccine in Alexandra Hills?

One Life Medical is a bulk-billing practice in Alexandra Hills. Services include immunisations, general surgery, antenatal care, health assessments, ECG’s, cryotherapy, travel medicine, employment medicals, driver’s medicals and more. Allied health practitioners regularly visit our practice. These include a physiotherapist, podiatrist, hearing specialist and dietitian.

To book an appointment at One Life Medical, please call 07 3824 8144. Alternatively, you can book online or download the app for iPhone or Android devices and make bookings directly from your phone. For further information, please call reception on 07 3824 8144.

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