FREE meningococcal vaccines will be offered to Campaspe Shire teenagers as part of a statewide rollout to prevent a spate in cases of the disease.
Meningococcal cases in Victoria have risen by 135 per cent in the past two years, with health authorities expecting cases to double. This year alone, 48 Victorians have been diagnosed with a new strain of meningococcal disease, with four dying as a result.
Victoria’s deputy chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton said late winter and early spring were the peak seasons for meningococcal and one in 10 cases were fatal, with death occurring within a matter of hours after diagnosis. ‘‘I think we will double where we are at now. It is a really serious illness and can kill people very quickly,’’ he said.
This year’s fatalities have included teens as well as people aged in their 40s and 50s.
The vaccine will be free for anyone aged 15 to 19 until December 31 next year at scheduled school vaccination days, council immunisation sessions or from local GPs.