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MenB vaccine

Quadrivalent (ACWY)
meningococcal vaccines

Description

The MenB vaccine (Bexsero; Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Pty. Ltd.) is recommended for babies and young children less than 2 years of age, and for adolescents and young adults. Although MenB vaccine is safe and protective against MenB type disease, it is not provided for free. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) determined that the large cost of routine MenB vaccination was not justified due to the rarity of MenB disease.

The ACWY vaccine provides protection against four meningococcal serotypes - MenA, MenC, MenW and MenY. The ACWY vaccine has been shown to be safe, and is able to stimulate the production of antibodies against MenA, MenC, MenW and MenY in babies, children and adults at levels high enough to provide protection. A single dose of ACWY vaccine, which has been in use in the US for several years, is estimated to reduce the risk of infection with these types by 80-85%.

 

Effectiveness

Because meningococcal disease is now rare, it has not been possible to conclusively prove the effectiveness of MenB vaccine in clinical trials – such a trial would require millions of participants over many years. However, when this vaccine is given as part of a recommended dose schedule it has been shown to stimulate protective antibodies against MenB at levels high enough to prevent disease.

 

Dose schedule

The dose schedule depends on the age of the child when the first dose is given: if the vaccine is given to babies less than 3 months of age, 3 doses are required; for babies and children older than 6 months, only 2 doses are required. For more information on dose schedules, check with your GP or see the Immunise Australia Program website.

For babies less than 6 months of age, 3 doses are required, followed by a booster dose at 12-18 months and then again 3 years later.

For babies and children older than 6 months, 2 doses are required, with a booster dose 3 years after the first dose.

Additional booster doses are needed every 5 years after the 3-year booster dose.

For more information on dose schedules, check with your GP or see the Immunise Australia Program website.

Safety

The MenB vaccine often causes fever in the 24 hours after dosing, especially if given at the same time as other routine vaccines. While this fever is not dangerous, paracetamol (at an appropriate dose for age) is recommended with each vaccine dose. This is an exception to the recommendation that paracetamol should not be given routinely at the time of infant vaccinations.

Other common side effects include tenderness, swelling and redness at the injection site, as well as irritability, sleepiness, unusual crying and change in appetite. The frequency of fever is two times higher if the MenB vaccine is given with other childhood vaccines.

Common side effects are similar to those experienced with other vaccinations, such as pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fever, irritability, drowsiness, decreased appetite and headaches. Rash and nausea are also sometimes reported after ACWY.

Cost

Approximately AU$125 to AU$135 per dose, not including the cost of the GP consultation.

All babies are offered a free Men ACWY vaccine when they turn 12 months old as part of the National Immunisation Program.

A free vaccination program is also being provided by the WA government for children aged 1-4 and teenagers aged 15-19. Speak to your GP for more information.

The Men ACWY can be purchased privately for use in other age groups according to availability. The cost per dose of ACWY varies depending on the vaccine, but approximately AU$80 to AU$100 per dose. The cost does not include the GP consultation.