Large study could show how to protect everyone from MenB

06 Apr 2017
Large study could show how to protect everyone from MenB
  • A large study that will offer the MenB vaccine to every school student in years 10 to 12 in South Australia could unlock protection for whole populations from meningitis and septicaemia caused by MenB
  • The results can be aggregated with a UK government funded study announced in January
  • Together these two research initiatives could show how to defeat MenB everywhere it exists

A major study in teenagers in South Australia started this week. It could provide vital evidence that will help defeat meningococcal B (MenB) meningitis and septicaemia around the world.

The study has very similar aims to a UK government backed study announced in January. Together these two studies will show whether vaccinating teenagers against MenB could prevent spread of the infection to the wider population – even those who are not directly vaccinated. In Australia as in the UK, teenagers are the age group most likely to carry the bacteria and are key to transmission.

Every high school in South Australia has been invited to take part and every teenager in school years 10 to 12 could be offered the MenB vaccine free of charge. The University of Adelaide is leading the study in partnership with SA Health.

This study will provide protection to an age group that is particularly at risk of the disease through free access to the vaccine, and also help solve a question that is crucial to public health.

Later this year the UK government will award funding for a similar nationwide study to find out the effectiveness of the MenB vaccine in adolescents. The government committed to funding this study in April 2016 following a major public petition and campaign.

A Meningitis Research Foundation-funded study at the University of Bristol, which is almost completed, is providing key evidence to enable effective design of the national UK government-backed study.

Aggregating the results from the UK and Australia studies will conclusively show whether vaccinating teenagers against MenB could prevent them carrying and spreading the infection to others, thus potentially protecting the whole population.

More information about the Australia study can be found at: www.bpartofit.com.au

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