South Australia has the highest rate of the potentially life threatening meningococcal disease in the country. Of all meningococcal cases, the majority of infections in South Australia are caused by the B strain. Children under five years of age and young adults aged 15-24 years are most at risk. In Australia, 5-10 per cent of cases of meningococcal disease result in fatality. Currently the only way to be protected from meningococcal B disease is to pay for the immunisation through your General Practitioner.
In 2017 all South Australian schools were invited to be involved in a landmark study called “B Part of It.” The University of Adelaide is leading the B Part of it study, in partnership with SA Health. The B Part of It study is an important piece of global immunisation research. This research aims to find out whether there are herd immunity benefits as a result of giving the meningococcal B vaccination to students in the South Australian school community. Herd immunity occurs when a significant proportion of the population is vaccinated which then provides protection against transmission of a disease to those who are not vaccinated.
Most South Australian high schools have joined the B Part of It” study and are now contributing to this important piece of global research.
In 2017, Year 10, 11 and 12 students across the state were invited to participate in the study – if their school had signed up – and if the parents and the students provided consent. Schools were randomly allocated into two study groups (A and B). Between April and June 2017 students attending group A schools received a baseline throat swab and were offered 2 doses of Men B vaccine in 2017. This group of students will receive a second swab between April and June 2018. Students attending group B schools received a baseline throat swab in 2017 and will receive a follow up throat swab and 2 doses of Men B vaccine in 2018.
Whether you’re a child, a parent, a teacher or a school principal, we encourage you to keep being part of this important study. Keep up to date, and learn about meningococcal B, then continue to work with us to make sure every student enrolled in the study in our state is immunised against meningococcal B disease. Together we can learn more about the important effects of herd immunity and protect those around us from meningococcal B.