Access to the Meningococcal B vaccine has been expanded for children aged under five years old providing better protection against meningococcal disease.
Te Whatu Ora Director of Prevention, Astrid Koornneef welcomed Pharmac’s decision to widen the access to the meningococcal B vaccine (branded as Bexsero).
“This change provides thousands of young people and infants protection against meningococcal B disease and, importantly allows for its inclusion in the childhood immunisation schedule.
“Meningococcal disease can develop rapidly and be life-threatening. It can become deadly in just a few hours. People who survive meningococcal disease often have serious long-term effects, including amputation of limbs, hearing loss, seizures, brain injury, and permanent skin scarring.”
Meningococcal disease can affect anyone, but higher rates are seen in young children and particularly in babies aged under one. Rates peak again in young people, particularly those in close-living situations such as university halls.
Expanded access to free meningococcal B vaccine for children aged under five years old
From 1 March the meningococcal B vaccine will be funded for all babies aged 12 months and under. It will be administered as part of the Childhood Immunisation Schedule alongside the other infant immunisations.
A free catch-up programme is available until 31 August 2025 for all other tamariki aged under five years old.
Expanded access for people aged 13 to 25 in specified close-living situations
People aged between 13 and 25, in their first year living in boarding school hostels, tertiary education halls of residence, military barracks, or correctional facilities are also eligible for funded meningococcal B vaccine.
A free catch-up programme is available until 28 February 2024 for all people aged 13-25 currently living in boarding schools, university hostels, military barracks, or correctional facilities.
The vaccine continues to be available and funded for all people who are close contacts of meningococcal B cases or who are at higher risk of meningococcal B disease due to reduced immune function.
The vaccine can be accessed through general practice and youth health services.
More information can be found here:
- The Ministry of Health: Meningococcal disease (including meningitis) | Ministry of Health NZ
- The Immunisation Advisory Centre: Immunisation Advisory Centre (immune.org.nz)
- ESR – Science for Communities: Public Health Surveillance (esr.cri.nz)
- HealthEd: HealthEd
- The Meningitis Foundation: https://www.meningitis.org.nz/
- Pharmac: https://schedule.pharmac.govt.nz/ScheduleOnline.php?edition=&osq=Bexsero