Vaccination funding: Labor MP Shane Broad with concerned parent Tracy Lee are pushing for government funding of the B strain meningococcal vaccine.
East Devonport’s Tracy Lee describes herself as a “worried parent just wanting the best for her kids and community” which is why she is calling on the government to cover the B strain meningococcal vaccine.
This comes after a four-year-old Devonport girl, and a 15-year-old Launceston boy were diagnosed with the meningococcal B disease in the past week.
“I want action now, not waiting down the track. I want free vaccinations for all,” she said.
Ms Lee said she was unsure how long she would have to wait to get her son vaccinated.
“Why should we put a price on a child’s head. What’s it going to take to get something done, is it going to take a death?” she said.
A statewide meningococcal vaccine program has been rolled out by the state government, but it doesn’t cover the B strain.
Under that program, all Tasmanians born after 1 August, 1997 and at least six weeks old are eligible for a free meningococcal vaccination covering the strains A, C, W and Y.
A B strain vaccination is available via private prescription from a GP.
Labor MP Shane Broad is also calling on the government to fund the B strain vaccine and set up clinics in the North and North-West of the state.
“I think now that the last two cases have been the B strain the government should be considering rolling out the B strain on the vaccine program and start a clinic in Devonport to cut out the waiting times to see a doctor when it’s vitally important to do so in a timely manner,” he said.
“The other issue is that if you have a child under ten-years-old, you can’t get vaccinated at a chemist you have to go to a doctor.
“I have three young kids and when my wife rang the doctors, they said we couldn’t get in for four weeks.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said it was “disappointing to see Labor playing politics with this issue yet again.”
“We acknowledge the strong community interest in this issue and will continue to follow the advice of Public Health experts, who have consistently advised that the focus of Tasmania’s broad-scale immunisation program must be on Meningococcal W,” he said
“Tasmanians can be assured that I have raised the prospect of meningococcal B vaccinations with my federal, state and territory health minister colleagues as recently as last month on this, and the Australian Government has agreed to do everything it can to accelerate consideration of the B strain vaccine on the PBS.”
The symptoms of meningococcal disease can include fever, severe headache, confusion, severe muscle pain, and rash.
SOURCE: The Advocate