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									                                                                                                                July 2004
Free “pneumo” vaccine for all infants in 2005
The two-year battle to have Australian                                                               “Many young lives will be saved and
infants protected against pneumococcal                                                               thousands more children will avoid being
disease finally ended on June 11 when                                                                   severely disabled as a result of this
                                                                                                          decision,” he said.
the Federal Government announced
the vaccine would be free for all                                                                            “It will also bring enormous relief
newborn babies born after                                                                                     to the vast number of families
                                                                                                               who want to vaccinate their
January 1 next year.
                                                                                                                infants but can’t afford the cost
Under the $178 million                                                                                           of about $500.”
plan launched by Health                                                                                         Mr Langoulant said that
Minister Tony Abbott, free                                                                                      when the Government
immunisation will also be                                                                                       introduced free immunisation
available for children born                                                                                     against Hib in 1993, it virtually
                                                                                                               wiped out a disease which was
after January 1, 2003 and for
                                                                                                               considered one of the most
all Australians over 65 (an age
                                                                                                              serious childhood infections in
group also vulnerable to the                                                                                 Australia.
                                                                                                            “In time, I hope the free
The Government says it is committed                                                                      immunisation programs put in place
to funding the program in future years                                                                for pneumococcal disease and
so that it becomes part of the routine                                                               meningococcal C will achieve the same
                                                                                                     result,” he said.
vaccination arrangements for all newborn
                                              Rockingham mother Karen Martin almost lost
babies.                                       her daughter Christie to pneumococcal disease          “Meanwhile, we look forward to the
                                              late last year when she was only 16 months old.        day when vaccines are discovered
Meningitis Centre Chairman Bruce              “I would not wish what Christie went through           to protect the community against
Langoulant welcomed the announcement          upon my worst enemy,” said Mrs Martin. Christie        other strains of the disease - such
                                              is well on the road to recovery and Mrs Martin         as meningococcal B - and the toll
describing it as a landmark decision which
                                              is relieved that the childhood vaccine (Prevenar)
would help safeguard the health of future                                                            rom meningitis and septicaemia
                                              will soon be freely available for all infants. Photo
                                                                                                     becomes negligible.”
generations of Australians.                   courtesy of Community Newspapers.

In 2002, there were 2,271 cases and 175 deaths from invasive pneumococcal disease in Australia across
all ages. Of these, 761 cases - including nine deaths - occurred in children under five.
In many cases, victims were left with long-term disabilities such as cerebral palsy, deafness, epilepsy,
blindness, behaviour problems and learning difficulties.
The decision to fund a vaccine program means that during 2005 up to 2.4 million young and older                       PAGE 2:
Australians will have access to free pneumococcal vaccine.                                                            Story behind
This is in addition to the 91,000 children who already receive the vaccine free because they are either               “pneumo” campaign.
Indigenous or in the high-risk category.
Encouragingly, the latest statistics compiled by the Vaccine Impact Surveillance Network indicate that                PAGE 3:
since the introduction of the vaccine in 2001 there has been a gradual decline in invasive pneumococcal               Parents back South-
disease among WA children up to five years of age.                                                                    West network
In 2003 there were 37 cases compared to 64 (2002) and 77 (2001) in WA.
FOOTNOTE: Supplies of the vaccine are now available throughout Australia after shortages caused by                    PAGE 4:
production problems earlier this year. For newborns, vaccination shots are recommended at 2, 4 and 6                  Eagles’ young guns
months.                                                                                                               show the way
                            CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE
                            Centre had key role in “pneumo” victory
                            “ seemed like
                            mission impossible...”
                                                                                          CAMPAIGN HIGHLIGHTS
I am proud to report that The Meningitis Centre played an important role in the free
pneumococcal vaccine campaign and can take some of the credit for persuading the
Federal Government to act.
With the invaluable help of our eastern states’ representatives, the Centre worked
tirelessly to convince politicians - and the media - that Australia’s youngsters had
to be protected against pneumococcal disease.
The campaign gathered momentum early last year when we distributed special                 March 2003: Special                                      August 2003: Meningitis
brochures to all Federal MPs, hoping to make them understand the tragic impact the         pneumococcal brochures                                   Centre lobbies Canberra MPs
                                                                                           sent to all Federal MPs.                                 and health officials.
disease was having on the community.
The feedback was so encouraging we followed up with visits to Canberra to meet key
Commonwealth health officials and staff from the then Health Minister’s office.
                                                                                               Vaccination of all
Soon after the Centre made submissions to the Australian Technical Advisory Group             Australian children
                                                                                             against Pneumococcal
on Immunisation and the Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, outlining our arguments                   disease.
for having the vaccine funded by the Government.                                              Submission from the
                                                                                              Meningitis Centre of
In December last year we had questions asked in Federal Parliament, held a major            Australia presented to the
media conference in Canberra and met with the new Health Minister, Tony Abbott.                 Treasurer of the
                                                                                            Commonwealth of Australia.
To complement these activities the Centre conducted website polls on the issue and
arranged human interest stories for our major newspapers and national television           October 2003: Budget                                     December 2003: Canberra
                                                                                           submission urges                                         media event; meeting with
programs.                                                                                  Government funding for                                   Health Minister.
All these initiatives were researched, co-ordinated and launched by Meningitis Centre
members, many of whom had shared the pain and suffering caused by pneumococcal
disease and understood the importance of this mission.                                                                    Telethon Institute for
                                                                                                                          Child Health Research

                                                                                                                          100 Roberts Road

Three years ago, however, it seemed like mission impossible.
                                                                                                                          Subiaco WA 6008

                                                                                                                          PO Box 855
                                                                                                                          West Perth WA 6872

                                                                                                                          Telephone: 08 9489 7791
                                                                                                                          Facsimile: 08 9489 7705
                                                                                                                          Freecall: 1800 250 223

Despite the weight of medical evidence, the support of the nation’s most respected

                                                                                             An Open Letter to the Prime
health organizations and growing concern in the community, decision makers in                Minister from a parent who
Canberra were far from convinced that a free immunisation program was necessary.             knows what impact
                                                                                             pneumococcal meningitis
That we were able to help change their mind is a remarkable achievement.                     has on a life:

On a personal level, my wife Jenni and I feel particularly relieved.                       April 2004: Open letter to                               May 2004: Current Affair and
                                                                                           Prime Minister John Howard                               Today Tonight highlight need
Since our daughter Ashleigh’s life was devastated by pneumococcal disease 14 years         published by leading                                     for free pneumococcal
ago, we have looked forward to the day when all children would be immunised and            newspapers.                                              vaccine.
other parents would not have to go through the same heart-breaking experience.
Unfortunately, other deadly strains of meningitis and septicaemia are still prevalent
in the community, claiming lives and causing terrible disabilities.
While this continues, The Meningitis Centre will remain an important community
service for all Australian families by maintaining awareness, providing information
and encouraging research into new vaccines.
The pneumococcal battle has been won, but the war against meningitis is far from
                                                                                           May 2004: Opposition                                     June 2004: Health Minister
Bruce Langoulant                                                                           Leader Mark Latham says                                  Tony Abbott announces free
                                                                                           Labor will fund vaccine.                                 vaccine for infants and older
Chairman                                                                                                                                            Australians.

Chairman to attend world conference
Meningitis Centre chairman Bruce Langoulant has been invited to          • Providing support to survivors.
attend the World Conference of Meningitis Associations in England
in September.                                                            • Encouraging Governments to increase vaccine budgets and provide
                                                                           funds for meningitis research.
More than 20 countries will be represented including the US, Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, China, Mexico, Turkey      In May this year, Clinical Associate Professor Dr Deborah Lehman
and the Philippines.                                                     attended the 5th International Symposium on Pneumococci &
The conference aims to help meningitis organizations achieve their       Pneumococcal Disease held at Alice Springs.
goals of:                                                                Dr Lehman is a committee member for both The Meningitis Centre
• Education and awareness of the causes and impact of meningitis.        and the Vaccine Impact Surveillance Network (VISN).
Demand is growing for more Meningitis Centre presentations - and the awareness is helping
attract much needed financial support.
Already this year family support services officer Treacy Elliott has conducted about 30
presentations to childcare centres, health care professionals, hospital staffs, community
groups, private companies and political groups.
In May, Treacy visited Bunbury Regional Hospital and spoke to staff in the maternity,
paediatric and public health sections. She also gave a presentation to about 30 community
and school nurses at their regional training day.
                                                                                                                  Bill Mortimer, Lynne Hunter and Robert Birch got into
The same month, our Sydney representative Susan Rudnick spoke to the cast of a University                         the Olympic spirit to help raise funds during a Swimathon
of NSW student revue shortly before it opened. Organisers said Susan made a big impact                            at Belmont. Photo courtesy of Community Newspapers.
on the students, many of whom were unaware of the need to immunise themselves against
meningococcal C.
                                                  The show proved a great hit with full houses
                                                  for more than a week and proceeds have
                                                  been donated to The Meningitis Centre.
                                                  In June, both Treacy and chairman Bruce
                                                  Langoulant gave a lunch-time address to
                                                  about 20 staff from Shell Australia. After the
                                                  presentation Shell’s social investment co-
                                                  ordinator, Sophie Williams, presented Bruce
                                                  with a cheque for $2,500.
                                                  Said Bruce: “Shell has proven to be a keen
                                                  supporter of The Meningitis Centre and we
                                                  are extremely grateful.”
                                                  Other activities to benefit the Centre included:                Volunteer models Karen Parker (left) and Kristen Graham
                                                  • A June fashion parade at Pandora’s                            strut their stuff during a fashion parade to raise funds for
Chairman Bruce Langoulant receives a cheque                                                                       The Meningitis Centre.
from Shell’s Sophie Williams.                       Fashions attracting a good attendance
                                                    and raising about $400. Our thanks to
                                                    the volunteer models and to Evans and
                                                    Tate for providing the wine.
                                                  • Two Swimathons arranged by the Belmont
                                                    AUSSI Masters Swimming Club in July.
                                                    In keeping with the Olympic spirit,
                                                    swimmers were dressed as Greek gods
                                                    and goddesses wearing togas and laurel

                                              Medical students from the University of NSW helped raise
                                              funds for The Meningitis Centre with their revue, The Cat With
                                              The Fat. Pictured left in the Dr Seuss hat is Kai Wang. The
                                              dancing girls are (left to right), Greta Jackson, Morgan Mitchell
                                              and Kahli Sanders. Morgan also produced the show.

Parents support S-W network                                                                               BARRY MACKINNON
The Meningitis Centre has started             old son Charlie was flown to PMH                            DEPARTS
moves to establish a special support          in October last year after emergency
network for South-West families.              staff at Bunbury Regional                                   Long-serving member Barry MacKinnon has resigned
                                                           Hospital diagnosed                             from The Meningitis Centre management committee
“Many families in the                                                                                     and as chairman of the Amanda Young Foundation.
region have either lost                                    meningococcal
children to meningitis                                     septicaemia.                                   Centre chairman Bruce Langoulant said Barry had
or seen them left with                                        “While Charlie is                           made an invaluable contribution with his
disabling after effects,”                                     making a good recovery                      professional advice, positive approach and sound
said Treacy Elliott, the                                      he is still undergoing                      grasp of organisational and corporate issues.
Centre’s family support                                       treatment to scarring on                    “Thanks to people like Barry, The Meningitis Centre
services officer.                                             his legs,” said Treacy.                     has established itself as an effective, highly-respected
                                                                                                          and community conscious organization with strong
“For some years The                                        Last year there
                                                                                                          representation throughout Australia,” said Bruce.
Meningitis Centre has                                      were 11 cases of
offered support and                                        pneumococcal disease                           “His guidance helped me personally and all
                         Treacy Elliott                                                                   committee members wish Barry well for the future.”
social activities for                                      and 5 meningococcal
families in the                                            infections in the                              Remaining volunteer committee members include:
metropolitan area. We                                      South-West and Great
now want to extend that support to                                                                        Bruce Langoulant (chairman); Michael Kailis
                                              Southern regions.
families living in the southern                                                                           (businessman); Dr Julie Dockerty (PMH); Dr Tony
                                              Anyone interested in the new South-                         Watson (Health WA); Dr Tony Kyle (PMH); Sarah
                                                                                                          Johnston (parent); Dr Deborah Lehmann (VISN);
Treacy said one of the parents who            West network should phone                                   Heather D’Antoine (Indigenous health); and
supported a South-West network was            (08) 9489 7709 or Freecall 1800 250                         Bob Ginbey (Telethon Institute for Child Health
Mrs Moira Slater whose three-year-            223.                                                        Research).
The 2004 winter campaign against       19, many of our youth think they
meningococcal disease got a            are bullet proof and don’t need to
helping arm this year when two         be immunised,” he said.
young West Coast Eagles’ rookies       “Hopefully, Beau and Sam will
volunteered to be immunised            make them think again.”
against the potentially deadly
infection.                             Communicable Disease Control
                                       Medical Director Dr Shirley Bowen
Beau Waters and Sam Butler -           said meningococcal disease
both 18 - agreed to promote the        affected about 70 people in WA
Federal Government’s free              each year and could occur at any
immunisation scheme and took           age.
part in a special media event at
                                       However, about 45 per cent of
Subiaco Oval with team doctor
                                       cases were less than five years of
Rod Moore.
                                       age and around 25 percent were
Meningitis Centre chairman Bruce       aged 15 to 24 years.
Langoulant said the two young                                                 Beau Waters looks on while Eagles’ team mate Sam Butler gets his vaccine
                                       “On average the disease claims         jab from club doctor Rod Moore.
footballers represented an age
                                       about four lives each year and
group which was particularly
                                       leaves about eight others suffering
vulnerable to meningococcal C.                                               Although the meningococcal C vaccine is effective against the disease,
                                       permanent disabilities such as
“Unfortunately, even though the        amputation or deafness,” said Dr      it is ineffective against other strains such as the most common type
vaccine is free for people up to age   Bowen.                                in WA, meningococcal B.

Major upgrade for
The Meningitis Centre website is undergoing a major overhaul.                  chief executive officer Barry Thornton.

New changes will include more information links, easier access and             “To make the information relevant, changes to the website will include
a more user-friendly design including photos and better graphics.              links to health authorities across Australia and the latest meningitis
                                                                               news in each State and Territory.”
The upgrade will coincide with the expansion of the Centre’s national
network of representatives and volunteers throughout Australia.                The redesigned website should be operational shortly and we
                                                                               encourage feedback and suggestions from our supporters and clients.
“Since the Meningitis Foundation closed its doors earlier this year,
more and more families across the country are using our website       was launched in May 2002 and now receives
for information and assistance,” said Meningitis Centre                        about 70 visits a day from all over Australia.

Australian financial services group, Associated       In particular we would like to thank the following:
Planners, has become a major sponsor of The
                                                      •   Telethon Institute for Child Health Research    • Michael Kailis
Meningitis Centre with a $28,000 donation and
                                                      •   WA Department of Health                         • Theo Kailis
a pledge for ongoing support.
                                                      •   Wyeth Australia                                 • Kathryn Lawry
The company has offices in all States and the         •   Baxter Healthcare
membership of its board includes Bruce                                                                    • Quota International of Geelong
                                                      •   Associated Planners
Langoulant, chairman of The Meningitis Centre.                                                            • Glen Iris Ladies Tuesday Golf Club
                                                      •   University of NSW Med Revue
Said Bruce: "I was extremely pleased that             •   Shell Australia                                 • Blackall CWA Queensland
Associated Planners recognised the valuable           •   Stan Perron Charitable Trust                    • Mediterranean Shipping Co
community service being provide by The
Meningitis Centre and decided to support our
work with such a generous donation."
So far this year the Centre has received support
from a wide variety of private organizations,
community groups and individuals throughout

                              The Meningitis Centre                                                This newsletter was kindly sponsored by
                              Telethon Institute for Child Health Research
                              100 Roberts Road, Subiaco, WA 6008
                              PO Box 855, West Perth 6872
                              Phone (08) 9489 7791 Fax (08) 9489 7705
                              Freecall 1800 250 223

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