Teenagers are urged to book in for a free meningococcal vaccine jab ahead of summer as 73 diagnosed cases have been confirmed in 2017 – up 21 from this time last year.
With the warmer months considered the peak time for the disease – spread via kissing, coughing or sneezing – Minister for Health Jill Hennessy says the meningococcal vaccine will “saves lives”.
“If you are eligible, and you haven’t received it yet, get the free vaccine as soon as you can, whether it’s from the GP, at school or at a local council immunisation session,” she said.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said the latest vaccine would protect against four new strains, which is different to the one given to young children.
Young people and smokers are particularly at risk of contracting the disease, with one in five aged 15-19 carrying the bacteria, which can be easily passed on to other family members and friends.
Sobering statistics also reveal ten per cent of meningococcal diagnoses are fatal with death occurring within 24-48 hours of diagnosis.
Of those who survive the disease, 20 per cent of people are left with a permanent disability such as brain damage or the loss of fingers, toes or limbs.
More details about meningococcal immunisation are available on local council websites, or the Better Health Channel website.