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TasCOSS is calling on the Hodgman government to take action to protect our children and young people against the deadly meningococcal disease.

TasCOSS CEO Kym Goodes said it is imperative that our government follows the lead of South Australia in providing free Meningococcal B vaccinations to protect against this largely preventable disease.

“It’s time for the government to step up – in the midst of so much public uncertainty we have an expectation that no matter what your income you and your family can be protected,” Ms Goodes said.

“The role of government is to ensure its citizens can feel safe and protected.

“We cannot allow cost to be the driver of inaction when we have the science and the resources to prevent the death or injury of our children and young people.

“The inequality exists when only those on a higher income can feel safe while parents on low incomes are currently worrying about the risks for their children as they return to school this week.

“Last year Tasmania had 16 reported cases of meningococcal, which equates to 3.1 people affected per 100,000. Comparatively, South Australia reported 2.1 people affected per 100,000 population.”

“However, the South Australian government responded to take decisive action against the disease, knowing their rate was much higher than the national rate.

“With Tasmania’s median household income of $37,387 per year, the cost of the B vaccination is out of reach for most Tasmanian parents.

“Despite Tasmania experiencing a golden age of economic prosperity, many families in our state cannot afford to access the most basic health care and there is a widening inequality in health outcomes.

“The health of people with low incomes in Tasmania already lags behind those on higher incomes, with preventative deaths for the poorest 20% of our population far exceeding those in more wealthy income brackets.

“This is a stark indicator of the broader inequality that has a very real impact on people’s lives.”