BABIES from two months will be able to receive a new meningococcal vaccine after it was approved by the Therapeutics Goods Administration for use in Australia.
GSK Australia made the announcement this morning, explaning that Menveo was the first combination vaccine for meningococcal strains A, C, W and Y to receive approval for use in babies.
The vaccine can also be used in adolescents and adults to help protect against the four strains of meningococcal disease contained in the vaccine.
Sydney University infectious diseases expert, Professor Robert Booy, said meningococcal disease can be devastating.
"Infants less than one year and children (under five) are most at risk," he said.
"Children up to the age of five accounted for 20% of meningococcal cases in Australia in 2016. Up to one in ten of those infected with meningococcal disease may die and around one in five may suffer from serious long-term disabilities, including brain damage, deafness, and limb loss.
"Vaccination against meningococcal disease is effective and should be encouraged.
"Protection against multiple strains is important, as the most common strains can change over time."
Rates of invansive meningococcal disease in Australia have decreased since the introduction in 2003 of the meningococcal C vaccine on the National Immunisation Program. However, the total number of meningococcal cases from any strain has increased since 2013.
Meningococal Australia director Eliza Ault-Connell said: "Vaccination is the best protection parents can give their children against meningococcal disease. It's a devastating disease that can affect anyone, but the toll on the lives of infants and young people can be especially heartbreaking."
"Meningococcal disease can appear suddenly and the signs are often difficult to recognise. All parents should familiarise themselves with the symptoms, such as a distinctive rash, sensitivity to light and a high fever. But we urge parents to speak to their GP about preventative vaccines."
Menveo is not on the National Immunisation Program. Those wanting more information about vaccination for meningococcal disease for themselves or dependents should speak to their healthcare professional.