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Successful start to the National Meningococcal C vaccination campaign across Victoria: Patterson.

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing

20th June 2003


Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, today welcomed news that all of Victoria’s local councils were well under way with implementing the Commonwealth Government’s National Meningococcal C vaccination initiative.

"I am pleased with Victoria’s progress to date and urge that they continue their good progress in implementing the program so as many young Australians as possible are protected from meningococcal C disease before this winter and spring, which is normally the peak season for meningococcal disease," Senator Patterson said.

"The Commonwealth is investing almost $60 million to protect Victorian children, including more than $56 million in meningococcal C vaccine and another $3 million to deliver school based immunisation clinics.

"Victoria is on schedule with its rollout, with around 400,000 doses of meningococcal C vaccine already distributed in the State.

"Victoria’s rollout is a far cry from New South Wales where I understand there has been little evidence of action. This is of great concern given the annual peak meningococcal season starts in winter.

"It is reassuring to know that almost 1.4 million Victorian children and adolescents will be protected against meningococcal C disease at the completion of the four year program," Senator Patterson said.

The Commonwealth Government expanded the National Meningococcal C Vaccination Program to provide access to free meningococcal C vaccine to almost 6 million young Australians over four years.

"The $291 million expanded program amounts to more than a doubling of the entire Federal Government immunisation expenditure in previous years’" Senator Patterson said.

In the first year, 2003, children turning one to five years of age will be vaccinated via general practitioners and senior high school students turning 15 to 19 years will be vaccinated through school-based vaccination clinics. Children

turning six to 14 years of age will also be vaccinated via school-based programs commencing in the second half of 2003.

Senator Patterson said that in 1995, Australian childhood immunisation rates were as low as 53 per cent. In response, the Howard Government launched the Immunise Australia Program - The Seven Point Plan in 1997. All States and Territories now average above 90 per cent coverage for infant immunisation.

"The successful implementation of this national program is dependent on the co-operation of the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments, general practitioners and other immunisation providers, as well as the community as a whole," Senator Patterson said.

Media inquiries: Randal Markey, Media Adviser, Senator Patterson's office, 02 6277 7220.