In this blog post I want to look at the meningitis B immunisation which is relatively new.
In the last month (Dec 2018) a few times I have had parents of young children asking me about whether they should pay for the Meningitis B immunisation for their children.
Just to recap, if you didn’t read my profile, I’m a full time family doctor/GP with experience working in Sydney and other locations along Australia’s East Coast.
Initially I stayed neutral and said I can prescribe it if they would like it and they have it in stock in the pharmacy next door but at A$125-A$150 dose it is their choice. There is coverage for four types of meningitis, ACWY but not B, in the Government funded National Immunisation Program (NIP).
I asked colleagues what they were doing when asked the same question. One took a proactive approach and said he recommended it on the basis that it’s extra protection and used the analogy of having insurance to describe having the extra immunisation to parents. The other colleague took the opposite approach and said the pharmaceutical company who manufactures the immunisation is just trying to scare parents into spending more money through it’s website and its TV ad campaign. The link to the official website for the recent campaign is: http://www.knowmeningococcal.com.au.
After hearing both these views I decided to adopt some of the first colleague’s approach and describe extra protection and recommend having the immunisation. To support this I have started showing them the Department of Health data on the number and types of meningitis cases if they want to see it from:
Like all statistics they can be viewed in different ways. One view is that the overall number of cases of Meningitis B per quarter is small and spread across the country but the consequences if affected by the disease can be severe and life threatening.
The Department of Health also have an information for the public page at:
Obviously it would be much easier if the various levels of Government involved in the NIP decided to fund it nationally, however the last official statement was that it was under consideration. South Australia Health have decided not to wait and their publicly funded Meningitis B initiative began in July 2018.
In conclusion I would agree with what the TV campaign says, speak to a doctor who knows your family best and have a discussion about how to proceed.
Declaration and disclaimer: I have no association with any pharmaceutical companies. This blog post is not a substitute for medical advice. See your own doctor to discuss your particular situation and needs.
Dr Amit Patel