Getting your meningococcal ACWY vaccination at school — what to expect

Vaccination is a simple and clever way to protect you from serious diseases now and later in your life.


Hi! My name is Caroline. I’m a registered nurse — just like the one you’re about to see for your vaccination. I’m going to tell you how vaccination protects you and why it’s important, what vaccines you will receive and what to expect on vaccination day.

Vaccination is a simple and clever way to protect you from serious diseases now and later in your life. It not only helps protect you, but it also protects the community around you by helping to stop the spread of diseases.

All vaccines work in the same way. A vaccine is a dead or weakened version of a bacteria or a virus that tricks our bodies into building immunity against that bacteria or virus. Our immune system remembers this and is able to quickly fight the real disease if we come into contact with it in the future.

Vaccination is the best way to protect you from many serious diseases. Some vaccines offer lifelong protection. In other cases ‘booster’ or extra doses are needed to continue to provide you with protection. You may not have heard of some of the diseases before, because they are no longer very common.  And this is because we keep vaccinating against them.

Today you'll be receiving a meningococcal ACWY vaccine.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious disease that can quickly become life-threatening, but you can be protected through vaccination.

Meningococcal disease occurs when meningococcal bacteria passes from one person to another through close contact. The meningococcal bacteria are commonly found in the nose and throat of healthy people. Older teenagers and young adults are most likely to carry the bacteria and spread it to others through deep kissing. 

Although most people will recover, meningococcal disease can cause complications including permanent disabilities through loss of limbs, deafness, blindness, scarring, organ failure and sometimes even death.

But there is a way to protect yourself.

The meningococcal ACWY vaccine protects against four types of meningococcal disease.

This vaccine is being provided to students in schools across Australia. A single injection of meningococcal ACWY vaccine is given to you in year 10 aged 14-16 years.

“Some of the tips my teacher gave me were wearing a short sleeved shirt.”

“Drink plenty of water before and bring a water bottle.”

“Eating breakfast in the morning.”

“And if you’re nervous like me, make sure you talk to a teacher beforehand.”

When it’s time to get your vaccination, you will be taken into an area to see a nurse. There may be other students in the room already with other nurses.

The nurse will ask you some questions about you and your health including your name, date of birth and address.

The nurse will check that your consent form has been signed by your parent or carer, ask if you are feeling well today, and if you have any allergies.

The nurse may also have to ask some questions that may seem silly to you but it’s important they know the true answers so they can make sure you’re ok to have your vaccination today.

“Beforehand to relax I was listening to music to keep calm, because I was a little bit nervous.”

“Before my vaccination I was having a conversation with all my friends just to relax me, getting feedback from their experiences from their previous vaccinations.”

“Afterwards I just moved my arm around a little bit and it felt fine after that.”

“The nurses helped me because I was pretty nervous. They gave me a stress ball to help me get through my nerves, and that really helped to calm me down.”

“So my number one tip going in for your vaccinations would probably be to relax, just breathe, don’t look and you should be fine.”

The nurse will then give you the vaccine in your upper arm.

Whilst getting your vaccine you may feel a little pinch, sting, tingle or even a mozzie bite sensation. It is important to remember that the more relaxed and distracted you are, the less you will feel.

You'll then need to wait for 15 minutes after you've had the vaccine to make sure you’re feeling well.

Well done! You did it!

“No, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, it was actually pretty good.”

“I think what helps the most is just when you breathe, you just breathe and you calm down. And the nurses are really nice too because they just talk to you about it and then they ask you questions that take your mind off it.”

“It didn’t really hurt, it just felt like a little pinch, just a little sting, it didn’t last for that long. And if you move your arm around afterwards, it feels alright.”

“Mine’s just a little bit sore.”

“You’ve just got to keep moving it, up and down.”

Remember, vaccination is safe, and it helps protect you, and the rest of the community, from serious diseases.

If you want to find out more about immunisation visit the website.

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Vaccination is a simple and clever way to protect you from serious diseases now and later in your life.

Clinical nurse Caroline Scott explains how vaccination protects you, why it’s important, and what to expect when you receive your meningococcal ACWY vaccination at school.


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