First statewide meningococcal B vaccine program in infants, children and adolescents: evidence for implementation in South Australia

Helen S Marshall, Noel Lally, Louise Flood and Paddy Phillips
Med J Aust 2020; 212 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50481
Published online: 3 February 2020


  • Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is an uncommon but life‐threatening infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis. Serogroups B, C, W and Y cause most IMD cases in Australia. The highest incidence occurs in children under 5 years of age. A second peak occurs in adolescents and young adults, which is also the age of highest carriage prevalence of N. meningitidis.
  • Meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) disease predominated nationally before 2016 and has remained the predominant cause of IMD in South Australia with 82% of cases, compared with 35% in New South Wales, 35% in Queensland, 9% in Victoria, 29% in Western Australia and 36% nationally in 2016.
  • MenB vaccination is recommended by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation for infants up to 2 years of age and adolescents aged 15–19 years (age 15–24 years for at‐risk groups, such as people living in close quarters or smokers), laboratory workers with exposure to N. meningitidis, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from age 2 months to 19 years.
  • Due to the epidemiology and disease burden from MenB, a meningococcal B vaccine program has been implemented in South Australia for individuals with age‐specific incidence rates higher than the mean rate of 2.8/100 000 population in South Australia in the period 2000–2017, including infants, young children (< 4 years) and adolescents (15–20 years).
  • Program evaluation of vaccine effectiveness against IMD is important. As observational evidence also suggests 4CMenB may have an impact on Neisseria gonorrhoeae with genetic homology between bacterial species, the vaccine impact on gonorrhoea will also be assessed.
  • Helen S Marshall1,2
  • Noel Lally3
  • Louise Flood3
  • Paddy Phillips3

  • 1 Women's and Children's Health Network, Adelaide, SA
  • 2 Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA
  • 3 Communicable Disease Control Branch, Department for Health and Wellbeing, , Adelaide, SA


Helen Marshall is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council: Career Development Fellowship (1084951). We thank Rodney Pearce and Celia Cooper, members of the South Australian Meningococcal B Expert Working Group, for reviewing the manuscript.

Competing interests:

The University of Adelaide, Helen Marshall's employer, has received funding from GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer to undergo investigator‐led research. Helen Marshall is a member of ATAGI, but the views expressed in this article are her own views. She does not receive any personal payments from the pharmaceutical industry.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.