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Teens from & visiting the Okanagan: Meningococcal disease outbreak info you need


Interior Health has declared an outbreak of meningococcal disease (serotype W) in the Okanagan area among teens. VCH Public Health is recommending that teens at risk get immunized for free. 

Who should be immunized

Youth 15-19 years of age who are

  1. Residents of the Okanagan living in the Lower Mainland temporarily 
  2. Travelling to the Okanagan for 3 weeks or more in the next few months

How to get immunized

Call your nearest Public Health Unit to make an appointment. 

VCH clinics & sites to assist with Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine

What is Meningococcal disease?

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. Meningococcal disease also causes infections in the blood. These infections can be serious and can even cause death or long-term health problems.

How is it spread?

Meningococcal infection is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, close face-to-face contact, and activities where saliva is shared. Transmission can occur via kissing or sharing of food, drinks, cigarettes, lipsticks, water bottles, mouth guards used for sports, or mouthpieces of musical instruments.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms among teens and young adults are:

  • A stiff and painful neck, especially when you try to touch your chin to your chest
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Seizures

Haven’t I had the immunization already?

The Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine provides protection against serotype W disease, and has been part of the routine immunization schedule for BC students in grade 9 since 2016. The vaccine provides protection for about 3 to 5 years. If you are in the high risk group recommended to get the vaccine but you had it in grade 9, you don’t need to get another vaccine. 

I’m not eligible for free vaccine but I still want to be immunized. 

Vaccine can be privately purchased through pharmacies with a prescription or through a travel clinic including the VCH Travel Clinic (604) 736-9244.

For more info read the BC Centre for Disease Control’s news release issued December 15, 2017.

SOURCE: Teens from & visiting the Okanagan: Meningococcal disease outbreak info you need ( )
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