Meningococcal peak period approaching - reminder to vaccinate


29 July 2019

Meningococcal cases normally start to increase towards the end of flu season when people’s immune systems are weaker from viruses, said NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard.

Who is at risk?

Meningococcal infection is spread by secretions from the nose and throat during close and prolonged contact. “It more commonly occurs in people aged between 15-24 years as they tend to be involved in more intimate social activities such as kissing, and children aged under 5 years, but it can affect anyone,” said Dr Sheppeard.

Meningococcal vaccines

Vaccination is the best means of protection against meningococcal disease. Vaccination for meningococcal disease types A, C, W and Y, is funded on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for infants at 12 months of age and adolescents in Year 10.

Any adolescents aged 15 to 19 years who miss the vaccine in school are eligible for a free vaccine from their GP.

Meningococcal B vaccine is recommended (but not NIP-funded) for people aged ≥6 weeks who wish to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with meningococcal disease.

Symptoms of meningococcal

As there are several strains of meningococcal disease, and vaccination does not cover all strains, even vaccinated people need to be on the lookout for symptoms.

With the peak period for the disease approaching, NSW Health is urging people to be alert to lesser known signs of meningococcal disease.

“Most people normally associate meningococcal disease with a rash of red-purple spots or bruises but in some cases a rash doesn’t appear, or it could be the last symptom to take shape.” said Dr Sheppeard.

“Often it can mimic other common illnesses, so be aware nearer spring that nausea symptoms, vomiting, neck stiffness, joint pain, light sensitivity, or a sudden fever, could be something else.”

Further information: