Meningococcal info released by Interior Health Monday.—Image: Kathy Michaels/Capital News

Meningococcal outbreak in Okanagan soon to be over

Health authority says it has immunized more than 14,000 teens in response to outbreak

Interior Health expects to declare the meningococcal outbreak that hit the region in December over next week.

Dr. Karin Goodison, medical health officer for the health authority said she expects IH to declare an end to the outbreak on Feb. 13, assuming no additional cases of meningococcal disease are reported over the next seven days.

At a news conference in Kelowna Monday, Goodison said all Okanagan residents aged 15 to 19 should get immunized against meningococcal disease before the outbreak is declared over.

A spike in the number of reported cases prompted the declaration of the outbreak at the end of 2017 and the opening of free immunization clinics for teens. Prior to the outbreak being declared there were 12 reported cases in the region, six of them in the Okanagan. Normally, IH sees between one and three cases region-wide per year with a high of five, said Goodison.

To date, she said, Interior Health has administered 14,486 immunizations in the Okanagan as part of the response to the outbreak. Eighty per cent of high school students have now been immunized but IH is reporting a lower uptake for the vaccine in the 18 to 19 year age group. So it is urging that particular age group to get immunized as quickly as possible while the vaccine is available.

Goodison said only 32 per cent of 18-year-olds and 19 per cent of 19-year-olds have received the vaccine as part of the outbreak response

Usually, only Grade 9 students are immunized as matter of course, but the program was expanded to include older youths last month when the outbreak was declared.

At that time, IH said it was setting up immunization clinics throughout the Okanagan for students in Grades 9 to 12 and for teens aged 15 to 19 who do not attend school and have not previously had the vaccine. It also included teens aged 18 and 19.

“We are extremely pleased with the response from the public to make immunization a priority, but are continuing to encourage those who have not yet been immunized to do so, especially those in the 18 to 19 year age group,” said Goodison.

“If you know someone in the Okanagan who is in this age group, please encourage them to get immunized while vaccine is available. Immunization is one of the best ways to protect yourself against this disease.”

Goodison said a young man who died in the the Oliver area was found to have meningococcal disease during a post mortem but it’s not clear if that’s what killed him so his death is not being recorded as a result of meningococcal disease.

Since declaring the meningococcal outbreak last month, IH’s response was described as “significant” – from arranging thousands of doses of vaccines coming from across Canada, to scheduling clinics to offer immunizations throughout the Okanagan, to partnering with local pharmacies to administer vaccine

Free immunizations are available at health centres and select Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs locations. Many of these pharmacies have extended hours to accommodate immunization.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northern Savings buys old Dairy Queen building

Old Prince Rupert DQ building has been vacant in since the 1990s

PHOTOS: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Secondary project added to Terrace Aquatic Centre

The $131,000 vestibule renovation will not delay pool opening

Terrace and Thornhill school board trustee candidates: why they’re running

There are two open positions in Terrace, one in Thornhill

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

Puff, puff, pass: Cannabis is officially legal across Canada

B.C. has only one bricks-and-mortar marijuana store

After 50 years, ‘Sesame Street’ Big Bird puppeteer retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on “Sesame Street” is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Britain, EU decide to take some time in getting Brexit right

Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “we need much time, much more time and we continue to work in the next weeks.”

Parole denied for convicted killer-rapist Paul Bernardo after 25 years in prison

Paul Bernardo plead for release on Wednesday by arguing he has done what he could to improve himself during his 25 years in prison.

Man holds newborn son for first time after devastating B.C. racetrack crash

Kayden was born the day after Jonathan was crushed by car at speedway

Most Read