Free meningococcal B vaccine for people most at risk

Media release Medicines

Around 1,500 people who are at higher risk of contracting meningococcal disease will soon be able to get the meningococcal B vaccine for free.

Meningococcal disease can lead to serious illnesses including meningitis (inflammation of your brain membranes) and septicaemia (blood poisoning). These illnesses can develop quickly over a few hours and can cause severe disability or even death.

“Making the vaccine available to those most at risk will help reduce the spread of meningococcal disease in our communities,” says Lisa Williams, PHARMAC operations director.

The vaccine will be funded from 1 July 2021, for close contacts of meningococcal cases of any meningococcal group (A, C, W, Y or B), or people who are at higher risk of contracting meningococcal B because they have reduced immune function due to certain health conditions.

“PHARMAC is all about helping people live longer and better lives. This vaccine will protect those New Zealanders at higher risk of contracting meningococcal B, which on average causes, more than half of all meningococcal cases each year,” says Ms Williams.

“Over the past five years, we’ve made more vaccines available for free. From protecting young children against chickenpox and older people from shingles to protecting young adults in close living situations from meningococcal ACWY and males from human papillomavirus (HPV).

PHARMAC’s expert clinical advisors have reviewed and recommended several other vaccines for funding, including wider access to the meningococcal B and meningococcal ACWY vaccines. These are on our options for investment list to potentially fund in the future.