Meningococcal jab free for gay men in Vic

Victorian health authorities are urging gay and bisexual men to take up a free meningococcal vaccination following an outbreak in the state.

Gay and bisexual men are being urged to get a free meningococcal vaccination following an outbreak of the deadly disease in Victoria.

Eight cases have been identified across Melbourne since May, almost all in gay and bisexual men, the state's deputy chief health officer Brett Sutton said in a statement on Friday.

While the disease can occur in people of all ages, the outbreak has been contained to members of the gay and bisexual community, the health department said.

"Men (who have) close or intimate contact with other men should get protected against this potentially deadly disease," Dr Sutton said.

"Those in relationships or meeting online or through apps, bars, clubs or parties are all at risk."

The infection can lead to meningitis and sepsis, which can be deadly in up to 10 per cent of cases, and about 20 per cent of people who survive the disease are left with a permanent disability, such as brain damage or the loss of fingers, toes or limbs.

"My message to this group in the community is simple: If you are vaccinated, you protect yourself and others around you by reducing the spread of the disease," Dr Sutton added.

The vaccine will be available for gay and bisexual men from December 11 until June 30, and patients are advised to let their GP know they wish to receive the vaccine prior to their appointment.

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