Page 502 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 21 February 2018

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program will provide one dose of the MenACWY vaccine free to year 10 students on an ongoing basis. This vaccine provides protection against these strains of the disease.

Visits by the schools health team to the initial schools have commenced this week and will continue through the semester. Families of high school students in year 10 will receive a letter outlining the program and their consent requirements. Students in year 10 who may miss being vaccinated through the school vaccination program will be able to receive it free through their GP in the same calendar year.

There will also be a free catch-up program in 2018 available to all young people aged between 16 and 19 years through their GP. As of the beginning of this month, ACT Health has delivered a base stock of the vaccine to all GPs along with promotional materials including posters and information pamphlets. The distribution of the vaccine is possible through current systems in place for vaccine deliveries across the ACT.

Anecdotal feedback from some GPs indicates that they already have a number of appointments booked to administer the vaccine. An education session for immunisation providers on meningococcal disease and the ACWY vaccination program was held last week. Additional promotional activities to ensure community awareness have also been launched, including via social and traditional media, as well as the program launched today at Kaleen high.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what are the benefits of establishing a program such as this for Canberra’s young people?

MS FITZHARRIS: As I indicated, older teenagers and young adults are at increased risk of meningococcal disease and more likely to carry the bacteria in their nose and throat and more likely to spread the bacteria to others. This is due to social behaviours that result in the bacteria being transmitted through close physical contact and participating in other social activities.

National immunisation experts recommend a routinely scheduled dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine at 15 years, accompanied by an introductory catch-up campaign to age 19 years. This is based on the evidence that older teenagers and young adults have an increased risk of meningococcal disease and are most likely to spread the disease.

Delivery through a school immunisation program is expected to achieve the highest coverage and effectiveness of the program for those in the 15-year-old age group. Introduction of the vaccination program through the schools health team enables the opportunity for high vaccination coverage by leveraging existing systems. This program will help keep Canberra’s young people and our broader community protected from meningococcal W disease.

Light rail—Mitchell

MR MILLIGAN: My question is to the minister for transport. Minister, on 7 February your office was quoted in the Canberra Times stating that the government

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