Club Cowra

NSW Further Expands Access To J.E. Vaccine

Written by: The Cowra Phoenix

vaccine

NSW has expanded access to free Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine to a further 14 locations bordering the existing eligible areas in regional NSW from Tuesday 28 November.

This means that, for residents living, or regularly working, in the Cabonne, Cowra, Mid-Western and Orange Local Government Areas (LGAs) who meet the below eligibility criteria can now access the vaccine through their local General Practitioner (GP), pharmacist, or Aboriginal Medical Service.

In NSW, a free Japanese encephalitis virus vaccination is available for people aged two months or older who live or routinely work in 55 regional LGAs with identified JE risk AND:

  • regularly spend time outdoors placing them at risk of mosquito bites, OR
  • are experiencing homelessness, OR
  • are living in conditions with limited mosquito protection (e.g. tents, caravans, dwellings with no insect screens), OR
  • are engaging in prolonged outdoor flood recovery (clean-up) efforts, including repeated professional or volunteer deployments.

Priscilla Stanley, Western NSW Local Health District Public Health Director, said the decision to broaden the scope of LGAs considered at-risk of possible JE transmission was made after health and environmental experts carefully considered surveillance data from the past two mosquito seasons alongside vaccine stock availability.

“Even though we’re anticipating a dry and hot summer and that will mean lower mosquito numbers, the experts determined that until we better understand the ecological and climate factors of JE transmission, it was important to expand eligibility of the vaccine,” Ms Stanley said.

“I would encourage those people living or working in the Cabonne, Cowra, Mid-Western and Orange LGAs who are at greater risk of mosquito bites to consider vaccination, and I encourage those in LGAs already eligible to do the same if they haven’t already.”

JE is a serious disease caused by the JE virus, however only around one per cent of people infected with the JE virus will experience symptoms. JE is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes. People are not able to pass the virus to other people. Humans also cannot get infected with the virus by touching an infected animal or eating animal products.

“It’s important to be mindful that mosquitoes in NSW can carry a range of viruses, including Murray Valley Encephalitis virus, Kunjin virus, Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus, as well as JE virus. Vaccine is only available for JE, so avoiding mosquito bites is the most important way of preventing these infections,” Ms Stanley said.

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