Our View (17-7-2018): Free meningococcal vax

THE news meningococcal B vaccinations will soon be free for children aged 6 weeks to 12 months, with a catch-up program for children up to 4 years, is a major win for local parents.

It is also a win for the many locals who have campaigned for this outcome.

Two of the state’s most well-known cases of meningococcal have affected local families.

Paige Weatherspoon was just 22 months old when the disease took her life in 2000.

Riley Nixon, who has close family in the Ardrossan area, lost his legs and hands after contracting meningococcal almost two years ago. Both were absolute tragedies. Yet those affected have turned their devastation into positive change by pushing forward in the fight against the disease.

The Paige Weatherspoon Foundation has advocated strongly for a cure, and has likely become Yorke Peninsula’s most recognisable, influential and respected homegrown charity organisation.

Riley is now a poster boy for the quest to stop meningococcal. His inspiring attitude was on full display as state Minister for Health Steven Wade announced free meningococcal vaccinations earlier this month.

The state government opened itself to criticism when it voted against making the vaccine free in May, opting instead to investigate the possibility further by establishing a clinical task group. One could have been forgiven for thinking the government was not keen to make the vaccine free, particularly because that had been an election promise of the Labor opposition. But the clinical task group reported back quickly, the government acted and the end result is now a broader immunisation program than Labor had proposed.

Everyone involved with fundraising for the Paige Weatherspoon Foundation and to help Riley Nixon deserves praise for this result, from those leading the charge to the countless locals who have donated throughout the years.

The efforts of locals have played a major role in protecting young people right throughout the state.

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