Babies as young as two months old can now be protected against multiple strains of meningococcal disease following the TGA approval of GSK’s MENVEO vaccine.
It is the first combination vaccine for meningococcal strains A, C, W and Y to be approved for infants under a year old.
Although the vaccine was not funded under the National Immunisation Program, the TGA decision was welcome news for parents, Bishoy Rizkalla, the acting medical director of GSK Vaccines, said.
Around one in five deaths from meningococcal disease occurred in children under five in 2016.
“We are meeting the increased demand for this vaccine so parents have the option to help protect against multiple meningococcal strains as a private prescription item,” Mr Rizkalla said.
The announcement is timely as notifications of meningococcal disease usually peaked in late winter and early spring, Professor Robert Booy, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Sydney, said.
Last year, the B strain of meningococcal was the most prevalent in babies. “However, an emergence of the W strain has created a need for a vaccine to help protect babies against this strain,” GSK said.
A total of 109 cases of meningococcal W were reported last year.
MENVEO may cause side effects in a few people, including redness, firmness, pain at the injection site, fever, chills, malaise, rash, headaches, muscle ache, joint ache, and nausea.
The new combination vaccine can also be used in adolescents and adults and can be obtained privately for around $75 a dose.