Calls for government to remedy Q fever vaccination outreach

Calls for government to remedy Q fever vaccination outreach


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An agricultural worker is vaccinated against Q fever by a nurse. Photo: Vicky Hughson

An agricultural worker is vaccinated against Q fever by a nurse. Photo: Vicky Hughson

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The NSW government is investing in a new Q fever vaccination and education campaign.

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The NSW shadow minister for primary industries Mick Veitch MLC is calling on the NSW government to provide more funding for Q fever vaccinations.

A Q fever vaccination can cost up to $400 and Country Labor had promised during its election campaign to fund 8,000 vaccinations and 4,000 tests for at-risk people in rural and regional NSW.

Those promises were, of course, lost when the coalition won the election, but Mr Veitch is yet to give up his battle.

It is believed Mr Veitch has had Q fever for many years, having contracted it as a young shearer.

"For some people, Q fever will affect their health and ability to work for many years," Mr Veitch said.

"I am bringing attention to Q fever because sometimes in the hurly-burly of election campaigns these sorts of issues are forgotten and it is vital that people have access to the vaccine.

"I am calling on the government to take this matter seriously so we can work together to address the issues of Q fever in society," he said.

In response, the minister for agriculture Adam Marshall said the NSW government was investing $200,000 to allow NSW Department of Primary Industries scientists to develop a new vaccine in collaboration with the Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory.

This was a commitment made by the NSW government in 2018.

"Unfortunately the current vaccine can't be given to those under 15 and uptake of the vaccine is lower than it should be in high-risk industries," Mr Marshall said.

"It is hoped the development of this simpler and safer vaccine will lead to higher vaccination rates, particularly among those at higher risk through their exposure to cattle, sheep and goats.

"Australia has the only human Q fever vaccine in the world so this research has potential to provide health benefits worldwide," he said.

The minister said the NSW government had also invested $275,000 into a Q fever education campaign to improve vaccine uptake.

This was also a commitment made in 2018.

What is Q fever?

Q fever is a bacterial infection that can cause a severe flu-like illness. The bacteria are spread from animals and can affect people's health and ability to work for many years.

People can also contract the infection without coming into contact with animals.

Local help

One of the groups proactively helping to get the vaccine out to communities is the Yass Branch of NSW Farmers.

Clinics were held by the branch in June for anyone to get the blood test, skin test and vaccination.

Newly elected chair of the Yass Branch, Carolina Merriman, had arranged the clinics and ensured they were affordable for those attending.

"Because I was able to organise a group session, it meant it was bulk billed. NSW Farmers also paid for the skin test, which is usually $50-60 per person and we also subsidised $20 off the vaccination for our members," she said.

The clinics assisted 35 local people. Of those, one person was found to have already contracted the bacterial infection.

"Organising this clinic has been extremely successful," Ms Merriman said.

"However, it is a very time-consuming process because it's not just organising the people to register, it's also organising the pharmacies and doctors to do the vaccination," Ms Merriman said.

"The government needs to step in to say that pharmacies should stock these vaccinations. There shouldn't be such a long waiting period to bring vaccinations into the community," she said.

Ms Merriman said the Yass Branch would consider running the Q fever clinics again with government support.

Yass Tribune

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