NSW Health urges teens to get vaccinated ahead of Schoolies Week

Disease prevention: NSW Health is reminding students to make their health a priority before they travel. Picture: Robert Shakespeare
Disease prevention: NSW Health is reminding students to make their health a priority before they travel. Picture: Robert Shakespeare

Celebrate but be careful what you could catch.

This is the message from NSW Health ahead of Schoolies celebrations, as end-of-year high school students prepare to party from November.

The health department is urging teenagers to plan ahead and protect themselves to ensure they are vaccinated against infectious diseases before starting the celebration for Schoolies Week.

Students are being advised to visit their GP for a health check at least two weeks before travel to ensure they are up to date with meningococcal ACWY and measles vaccinations.

In 2017, the NSW school-based vaccination program achieved uptake of 72 per cent for meningococcal ACWY vaccination for year 11 students in school clinics.

Others may have taken advantage of free vaccine from their GP.

Director of the Communicable Diseases Branch, Vicky Sheppeard, says while this is encouraging, up to 28 per cent of graduates may not be vaccinated.

“Vaccines for both measles and meningococcal are free for students who have missed their routine doses,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“Schoolies travelling overseas should also check with their GP if they need other vaccines, such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid or a tetanus booster.”

Since 2017, the NSW government has invested $17 million in the Meningococcal W Response Program and a record $22.75 million on statewide immunisation programs this year.

“There has been a lot of education centred around the risks of sex, drugs and alcohol, but the threat of infection and disease is very real and students should discuss their vaccination history with their GP prior to travel,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“As measles remains common in several overseas countries, travellers are at risk of exposure. Additionally, high levels of social mixing increase the risk of exposure to meningococcal disease.”

Schoolies are also reminded to pack an effective insect repellent to avoid contracting mosquito-borne infections, including Dengue Fever and Ross River virus.

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