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Medical Health Aged Care

RACGP calls for expanded access to meningococcal B and flu vaccinations

Royal Australian College of GPs 2 mins read

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) is calling on all Tasmanian political parties to commit to expanding access to free influenza vaccinations and to Meningococcal B vaccinations for select groups.

It comes following soaring influenza rates over summer and concerns that complacency is creeping in when it comes to ensuring all family members are vaccinated. The Tasmanian Coroner Simon Cooper has also recommended patients be provided with access to free meningococcal B vaccines.

RACGP Tasmania Chair, Dr Toby Gardner, said that expanding access would save lives.

“Getting more Tasmanians vaccinated will stop larger numbers of people suffering severe effects and ending up in hospital,” he said.

“When it comes to getting vaccinated, we know that cost is a factor for many patients. This is particularly so at a time of high cost of living pressures when many households are being forced to make impossible decisions between buying groceries and medicines, filling up the car, or booking a GP consult or other healthcare appointment.

“So, by making flu vaccinations free for everyone, including those not covered by the National Immunisation Program, we can limit the impact of this serious virus. We are calling for expanded influenza vaccinations to be delivered from February to June to augment the National Immunisation Program and significantly boost influenza vaccination rates. Funding vaccinations in GP clinics, prior to the peak of the influenza season, would help prevent a substantial number of cases as well as creating opportunities for GPs to talk to patients about a range of preventive health measures including smoking cessation, weight loss and chronic disease prevention, and more.

“Making the meningococcal B vaccine free for infants aged two and under, as well as adolescents aged 15 to 19, would make an enormous difference. It would expand the number of people at high risk of getting the disease and therefore potentially prevent the loss of life every year.”

Dr Gardner said that expanding access would benefit all communities.

“Influenza and meningococcal B must be taken seriously,” he said.

“Last year, 3,341 Tasmanians were diagnosed with lab-confirmed influenza, and modelling tells us that every year this virus leads to around 500 hospital admissions and almost 7,000 GP consults. Meningococcal B is rare; however, it can prove fatal, or lead to severe scarring, loss of limbs and brain damage. The Tasmanian Coroner Simon Cooper recommended patients be provided with access to free meningococcal B vaccines following an inquest into the tragic death of Sarah Beltz who died from the infection in 2018 aged just 16 years. So, let’s get this done, and help keep as many people as possible safe from harm.”

The College estimates costs to government as follows:

  • $4.22 million per year to provide free influenza vaccinations at GP clinics for people not covered by the National Immunisation Program
  • $1 million per year to provide Meningococcal B vaccine to Tasmanian babies and adolescents.


RACGP spokespeople are available for interview.

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About the RACGP

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

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