What Aussie parents need to know about meningococcal disease

Whilst 93 percent of Australian parents believe that they know what meningococcal disease is, on average nearly a third of Australian parents (28%) are not fully aware of the facts about the disease. Of parents recently surveyed, 22 percent misidentified the deadly bacterial infection as a type of cancer (2%), flu (16%) and even sunburn (4%).i

In response to the research, commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a national awareness campaign #KnowMeningococcal is launching in partnership with Kyly Clarke – mum to Kelsey Lee and wife of Aussie Cricket legend Michael Clarke – to encourage parents to know more about the devastating and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection.

Whilst rare, meningococcal disease can progress rapidly - resulting in death within 24 hours or serious long-term disabilities, including brain damage, deafness and limb loss.ii Despite the risk, the survey of 1,000 parents with young children found that on average, 41 percent of Australian parents are not aware of some of the more specific symptoms of the disease.

Almost all (97%) parents surveyed believe vaccinations are important because they help prevent disease, yet many parents have not taken their child to receive any vaccinations outside of the routine childhood vaccination schedule. Almost half (46%) did not know that routine childhood vaccination did not cover all strains of meningococcal disease.

Professor Robert Booy, Head of the Clinical Research Team at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) said, “while awareness of meningococcal disease is high, the research has found there is still very little public understanding about the signs and symptoms, the serious risks the disease poses, and the different types of strains. There are six different types of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease and four of these types are present in Australia. Most parents only know of one type and don’t realise that the rest of the strains aren’t covered by their routine vaccinations.iii

Meningococcal disease is a rare bacterial infection of the blood and/or membranes that line the spinal cord and brain. Some of the symptoms that may be present include high fever, severe headache, nausea and vomiting, or a reddish or purple skin rash. Infants, young children and adolescents are most at risk, especially those under the age of four, and babies under 12 months have the highest risk, which is why it is something every parent needs to know more about.

Commenting on why she’s supporting the KnowMeningococcal campaign, Kyly Clarke said “when it comes to my daughter, Kelsey Lee, like all parents all I want is for her to be healthy and happy. While I knew about meningococcal disease, it wasn’t until I met families affected by the disease that I realised how important it is as a parent to not only know the signs and symptoms to look out for, but also how to protect against it.”

Meningococcal disease is rare and it can be devastating, but you can help to protect against it. Talk to your general practitioner and visit KnowMeningococcal.com.au to learn more about the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and how to prevent it.

Also please join Kyly Clarke in a Thunderclap social pledge to support KnowMeningococcal and help spread the word about meningococcal disease.

ENDS

 

AUSTRALIANS AND MENINGOCCOCAL DISEASE AWARENESS – A STATE BY STATE SNAPSHOTi

Melbourne
• On average, 32% of Melbourne parents are not fully aware of the facts about meningococcal disease
• 27% of Melbourne parents misidentified the deadly bacterial infection as a type of cancer (2%), flu (22%) and even sunburn (3%).
• On average, 53% of Melbourne parents are not aware of main symptoms of the disease.
• 99% of Melbourne parents believe vaccinations are important because they help prevent disease, yet:
    o 44% did not know that not all strains of meningococcal disease are covered by routine vaccination.

Sydney
• On average, 39% of Sydney parents are not fully aware of the facts about meningococcal disease
• 29% of Sydney parents misidentified the deadly bacterial infection as a type of cancer (3%), flu (17%) and even sunburn (9%).
• On average, 46% of Sydney parents are not aware of main symptoms of the disease.
• 97% of Sydney parents believe vaccinations are important because they help prevent disease, yet:
    o 55% did not know that not all strains of meningococcal disease are covered by routine vaccination.

Brisbane
• On average, 38% of Brisbane parents are not fully aware of the facts about meningococcal disease
• 21% of Brisbane parents misidentified the deadly bacterial infection as a type of cancer (2%), flu (16%) and even sunburn (3%).
• On average, 36% of Brisbane parents are not aware of main symptoms of the disease.
• 95% parents surveyed believe vaccinations are important because they help prevent disease, yet:
    o 52% did not know that not all strains of meningococcal disease are covered by routine vaccination.

Adelaide
• On average, 29% of Adelaide parents are not fully aware of the facts about meningococcal disease
• 20% of Adelaide parents misidentified the deadly bacterial infection as a type of cancer (6%), flu (11%) and even sunburn (3%).
• On average, 43% of Adelaide parents are not aware of main symptoms of the disease.
• 95% of Adelaide parents surveyed believe vaccinations are important because they help prevent disease, yet:
    o 26% did not know that not all strains of meningococcal disease are covered by routine vaccination.

Perth
• On average, 31% of Perth parents are not fully aware of the facts about meningococcal disease
• 21% of Perth parents misidentified the deadly bacterial infection as a type of cancer (4%), flu (14%) and even sunburn (3%).
• On average, 37% of Perth parents are not aware of main symptoms of the disease.
• 99% of Perth parents surveyed believe vaccinations are important because they help prevent disease, yet:
    o 36% of Perth parents did not know that not all strains of meningococcal disease are covered by routine vaccination.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) commissioned Ipsos to conduct an online survey in May 2017. The research was a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australian adult respondents (18+) with children under four years of age, to determine the understanding of parents on meningococcal disease, vaccination behaviour, beliefs and knowledge.

About GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
One of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit www.au.gsk.com 

About Professor Booy
Professor Robert Booy is Head of the Clinical Research team at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) where he joined in March, 2005. He is a medical graduate of the University of Queensland (1984) and trained in Paediatrics at the Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane. He has held a range of positions in the UK including Professor of Child Health with the University of London; Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at St Mary’s Hospital, London; Research Fellow with the University of Oxford; and was the recipient of a Wellcome training fellowship in epidemiology focusing on genetic factors important in meningococcal disease.

About Kyly Clarke
An Australian model, author, presenter and interior designer who is passionate about fashion, health, fitness, beauty, design and living a holistic life. In addition to her media and interior design work, Kyly is also a strong advocate for giving back to the community and is actively involved with a number of charitable pursuits. She is a supporter of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), and along with her husband Michael, involved with The Loyal Foundation which raises money for seriously ill children.

For further information, please contact:

WE Buchan - Sophia Brockman
M: 0416 558 002
sbrockman@buchanwe.com.au

WE Buchan - Kyra Washington
M: 0421 582 621
kwashington@buchanwe.com.au

GSK - Kim O'Donohue: 0477 322 431

AUS/VAC/0038/17 Date of Approval: June 2017

 

iOnline marketing research conducted by Ipsos on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline among n=1000. The survey was conducted among a nationally representative population sample of men and women 18 years of age and over. AUS/VAC/0047/17
iiCDC VPD manual Chapter 8: Meningococcal disease. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.pdf
iiiNational Immunisation Program Schedule; World Health Organization (WHO). Meningococcal Meningitis factsheet no. 141, 2015. www.who.int/mediacentre/ factsheets/fs141/