SOUTH East residents raised their cups in memory of Meningococcal B victim Skylar Lawrence last week to raise awareness about the deadly disease and funds to make the vaccine available to save other children.
Great-grandparents Peter and Lesley Medhurst and grandmother Judy Koopman were flanked by family and friends at Glencoe’s Country Post and Bistro for the official launch of the “ShareacinowithSkylar” awareness campaign.
Former Mount Gambier resident Sally Lawrence launched the public campaign in Darwin last Friday to lobby the Federal Government to fund Meningococcal B-strain vaccinations.
The two-year-old tragically died on October 15 last year from the meningococcal disease B-strain just hours after falling ill.
The campagin officially launched on the day that would have been Skylar’s third birthday, with 50 cafes nationwide offering free babycinos until the vaccine is funded on the National Immunisation Program.
Ms Medhurst said she was overwhelmed by the support for the cause.
“It’s really good to see so many coffee shops involved,” she said.
“I think it’s a disastrous disease and there are a lot of people who are aware of meningococcal, but a lot of people are not aware of the strain B.
“It’s not out in the open like the others.”
In the wake of Skylar’s death, the Northern Territory Government replaced the current vaccine for the C-strain with a new quad vaccine to protect against the A, C, Y and W-strains of the disease.
However, the B-strain remains off the public schedule, despite the majority of infections in Australia caused by types B and C.
The Meningococcal B vaccine – Bexsero – has been available in Australia since August 2014, but costs several hundred dollars for the full vaccination course.
Ms Koopman said increasing awareness and placing the vaccination on the public schedule was imperative to saving lives.
“The three grandkids had their meningococcal immunisations last year and we were not even informed about the B-strain,” she said.
“It costs $120 for each injection and you need three of them to be fully immunised.
“It’s a lot of money for the average person and should be included with all the other strains because it would save the lives of children like Skylar.”