Interior Health communications administrator Deborah Preston, left, and medical health officer Dr. Karin Goodison update the media earlier in December about outbreak of meningococcal disease in the Okanagan. Photo credit: Carmen Weld/Black Press

Renewed vaccination push for meningococcal disease outbreak

Looking to vaccinate 15-19 age group within Okanagan region

A renewed emphasis on the third phase of the meningococcal disease immunization campaign has been necessitated by the 12th confirmed case identified within the Interior Health region this year.

Dr. Trevor Corneil, vice-president population health and chief medical health officer for Interior Health, said the most recent case confirmation last week concerned a youth in the Thompson-Cariboo region.

“We’ve had 12 cases in total but five of those were close enough together with a certain age group and geography location within the Okanagan to call that an outbreak,” Corneil said.

The immunization campaign has targeted the Okanagan region from Enderby to Keremeos, specifically the 15-19 age group considered most vulnerable to the disease.

Corneil said the initial immunization response uptake was on a positive participatory trend prior to the Christmas vacation break at schools and has been much slower since.

According to the IH website, 12,260 people have been immunized which is 59.7 per cent of the target 15-19 age group.

Related: Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

“It’s unfortunate but not unexpected to see a drop-off over the holidays. With schools out, we are trying other ways to get the message out to this highest risk group for the disease to get immunized,” Corneil said.

“The first phase of the campaign was before the holidays, the second phase has been over the holidays and the this phase will start up in schools again Jan. 8. That is when we have the attention of the captive audience we are trying to reach.”

Corneil said how long the campaign will carry on, with a 75 to 95 per cent uptake vaccination target, will depend on new reported cases of the disease.

“This latest reported case is a bit of a setback but we are really going week to week on this. The six cases reported in the second half of (2017) have all been severe. One teenager has died and another has involved potential neurological damage.”

One of the cases involved a Kalamalka Secondary School Grade 11 student, who was sent to hospital in Vancouver in a medically induced coma three weeks ago.

Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. This bacterium can cause serious and sometimes fatal diseases including meningitis (infection of the brain lining and spinal cord) and meningococcal septicaemia (infection of the blood).

People spread the meningococcal bacteria to others by sharing respiratory and throat secretions at close contact, generally from coughing or kissing.

Corneil said dealing with the meningococcal outbreak is an expensive public health initiative, from staffing and resources required to stage an immunization campaign to the cost of the vaccine itself, which is $150 per person with a target age group numbering 20,000.

“It’s expensive but absolutely worth it,” he noted. “It’s unfortunate to be in this position but Interior Health is doing everything we can, and we really want the public to help us, in getting kids immunized.”

Additional funding and other resource support is provided through the ministry of health and B.C. Disease Control Centre.


 


newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Guerrilla Gigs replacing Streetfest this summer in Revelstoke

Buy one of 30 tickets the Sunday before the Wednesday show

UPDATE: Trans-Canada Highway open to single-lane traffic west of Revelstoke due to flooding

The highway between Revelstoke and Golden is also open again

Mt. Revelstoke summit and back country closed to dogs permanently

Dogs allowed on-leash only in some other areas

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for July 2

Items from Revelstoke newspapers, as gleaned and edited by Cathy English, curator… Continue reading

Heavy rain in Okanagan results in slowest start to fire season in four years

119 hectares of land burned so far this year, compared to 991 ha in 2019, and 3,835 ha in 2018

Shuswap Lake algae bloom being monitored, not considered harmful

Dangerous toxins not found in June 30 water quality test

Slow season at Okanagan U-pick farms

Lake Country farm owner Bruce Duggan said the rainy weather is turning people away

Not a chef: Cooking in COVID

Okanagan resident Andrew Levangie writes a new food column for Black Press Media

Okanagan man who rescued family from fire says it’s him who needed rescuing

Months after saving Linda Pakfec and her family from a burning building, Gord Portman says he’s clean

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Kootnekoff: B.C. Violated French Education Rights

Lawyer Susan Kootnekoff discusses British Columbia’s only French language school board

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

Hwy 1 flooding causes massive delays on certain Arrow Lakes ferry routes

Motorists have been waiting around three hours to get on ferries

Most Read