Meningococcal B vaccine to be made free for infants, children and adolescents

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
  • The Palaszczuk Government is making meningococcal B vaccines free for all infants and children under the age of two, and adolescents aged 15 to 19 years
  • The vaccines will be provided as part of routine childhood and school immunisation programs
  • This is the largest state-funded immunisation program in Queensland’s history with initial funding of more than $90 million, over three years

The Palaszczuk Government will deliver the largest state-funded immunisation program in Queensland’s history, with the introduction of free meningococcal B (MenB) vaccines, from 2024.

Minister for Health Shannon Fentiman today announced the Queensland Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will be launched, with an initial investment of more than $90 million over three years.

The vaccinations will form part of the routine childhood and school immunisation programs in Queensland, for eligible cohorts, as recommended by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).

Eligible cohorts include:

  • All infants and children under the age of two
  • All adolescents aged 15 to 19 years.

The MenB vaccination program will be delivered through Queensland Health registered vaccine service providers including general practitioners, community vaccination clinics, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services.

For secondary school students in Year 10, the meningococcal B vaccine will form part of Queensland’s School Immunisation Program.

Invasive meningococcal disease can cause significant illness, disability and death, with the MenB strain emerging as the most common cause of illness and death of all strains.

Queensland has recorded 20 cases of MenB so far this year, following 10 cases to the same time last year, with a total of 26 cases in 2022.

Quotes attributable to Queensland Minister for Health Shannon Fentiman:

“After hearing the stories of heartbroken Queensland families, I had to act.

“Jodie and Blair Fidler didn’t know their beautiful daughter Bella wasn’t protected from meningococcal B through the existing school vaccination program, which only covers the A,C,W and Y strains.

“It is just amazing that Bella’s family has been able to channel their grief into advocacy for something that will undoubtedly save Queensland lives.

“This announcement is the single biggest investment in a state-funded vaccination program, to date, and just reinforces our commitment to the health and safety of Queenslanders.

“We know the meningococcal B strain can be lethal and – if a young person is lucky enough to survive the disease – it’s likely they will develop permanent and sometimes devastating complications.

“Right now MenB vaccination costs around $100 per vaccine.

“Our Queensland Meningococcal B Immunisation Program will remove the financial barriers to vaccination and ensure those who need it most can access it.

“Almost half a million infants, children and adolescents will be eligible to receive the MenB vaccine from quarter one 2024.

“I also want to thank Meningococcal Y survivor Phoebe O’Connell and her mum Katy, for their fierce advocacy on this topic.

“Phoebe is still here thanks to the precious gift of a kidney, from her Mum, which she needed after contracting this terrible disease.

“The Palaszczuk Government will continue to advocate for a nationally-consistent approach to funded MenB vaccines under the National Immunisation Program.”

Quotes attributable to Queensland Chief Health Officer John Gerrard:

“Queensland Health will work closely with vaccination providers over the coming months to ensure a smooth implementation.

“While this is a complex issue, vaccinating additional cohorts is an important step towards reducing the risk associated with meningococcal B infection and keeping more people safe from the disease.

“It’s important to note that while invasive meningococcal disease is rare, it can be very dangerous.

“We regularly monitor trends of strains causing invasive meningococcal disease and will continue to do so.”

/Public Release. View in full here.