Free Meningococcal B vaccinations

ABORIGINAL and Torres Strait Islander infants are eligible for free Meningococcal B vaccinations from this month.

The Bexsero vaccine for Meningococcal B will be available for free through MDAS from July 1 for indigenous children under two years of age.

The vaccine has been available for purchase since 2018 but is now on the vaccination schedule for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies in Victoria.

A vaccine against Meningococcal A, C, W and Y strains is also on the schedule.

MDAS early years midwife and immunisation coordinator Yvonne Barnes said Meningococcal vaccines were particularly crucial in at-risk indigenous communities.

"Meningococcal B is a major cause of meningitis, or inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and also causes septicaemia, which is an infection of the blood," she said.

"Infection rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under two are about four times higher than in non-Indigenous children, so we're keen to let our families know that it's now available free of charge," she said.

While the vaccine is now on the routine vaccination schedule for babies, MDAS health clinics are also offering a free catch-up service for children up to two years old.

"If anyone wants to make a booking for a catch-up program for their toddler, or if they just want to get a bit more information about Meningococcal B, or the vaccine itself, including the possible side effects, we're here to help," Ms Barnes said.