Meningococcal disease (Invasive)
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but very serious infection that occurs when the meningococcal bacteria ‘invades’ the body from the throat or nose. It usually appears as meningitis or sepsis. You can find more information on Meningococcal disease, including what symptoms to look out for, on the Meningococcal disease: Information for the public website.
Meningococcal disease in Australia
Overall, the national incidence of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in Australia is low. From 2003 to 2013, there was a decrease in the number of IMD notifications reported in Australia, following the introduction of the meningococcal C (MenC) vaccine onto the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in 2003. However, in recent years the rate of IMD has increased, with 2017 displaying the highest rate (1.5 per 100,000) since 2007.
Figure 1. Quarterly cases and annual rate of IMD, Australia, 1 January 2008 to 30 June 2018 by serogroup
#Data from the NNDSS with a diagnosis date up until of 30 June2018. Data were extracted on 10 October 2018.
*NG includes where meningococcal isolates could not be identified (‘not groupable’), other isolates not grouped and where serogroup was not known.
Immunisation against Meningococcal
The four most common meningococcal types in Australia are B, C, W and Y. There are vaccines available to protect against these types in Australia.
National Meningococcal ACWY Immunisation Programs
Infants (12 months of age)
Funded immunisation against meningococcal disease in Australia on the NIP from 2003 to June 2018 was targeted at meningococcal serogoup C (MenC), with a vaccine administered to children at 12 months of age. From 1 July 2018, the MenC vaccine was replaced with Nimenrix® (a vaccine targeted at meningococcal serogroups A, C, W, Y or MenACWY) and will be administered to children at 12 months of age as part of the NIP.
The Australian Government recently announced that Nimenrix® (MenACWY vaccine) will be funded as part of the NIP for adolescents from April 2019. This immunisation will be provided through:
- a schools based program for adolescents in Year 10 aged 14–16 years; and
- an ongoing GP based catch up for adolescents 15–19 years of age who have not received the vaccine through the schools programs.
Further information on the national Meningococcal Immunisation Programs can be found at Immunisation of Meningococcal Disease in Australia.
State and Territory Meningococcal immunisation programs
All states and territories have initiated time limited, meningococcal ACWY vaccination programs, which commenced in 2017 or 2018. These programs have been developed by each state and territory and are targeted at adolescents (15 - 18 years) or children, adolescents and young adults (0-20 years).
More information on what each state and territory is offering, and if you are eligible for a free vaccination can be found in the links below:
Invasive Meningococcal Disease Quarterly Reports
The quarterly reports document trends in notified cases of IMD occurring in Australia. Quarterly reports for Invasive Meningococcal Disease began in quarter 2 of 2018.
Consolidated Invasive Meningococcal W Disease National Surveillance Reports
1 January to 31 March 2018
1 January to 31 December 2017