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

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

On the agenda for Committee of the Whole tonight

Reserves and Surplus Policy and three land use applications

UPDATED: Emergency crews rescue pregnant woman from Mount Finlayson

Langford and Metchosin respond to roughly four-hour-long rescue

Oak Bay skaters bound for BC Games in Kamloops

Saanich resident aims for second gold

Victoria police pay special attention to domestic violence

Workshop for officers and others shows how domestic abuse trauma impacts for a long time

Oak Bay skaters bound for BC Games in Kamloops

Saanich resident aims for second gold

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

Canadians find living in small spaces teaches creativity

Canadian families choosing to live in small spaces to bring closeness to children

Victoria City rower medals at indoor world championships

Carl Schoch takes 2,000-metre sprint bronze in veteran category

Saanich Braves earn top awards heading into playoffs

MVP, Coach of Year lead Braves against Kerry Park Islanders starting Tuesday

SAR suspends search for missing man at Sun Peaks

RCMP will continue to search for a missing man near Kamloops but SAR has suspended their role

Lottery will help save children’s lives

Each ticket gets you a chance to win a lot of money, while helping a lot of kids

B.C. RCMP officer officially cleared in car wash shooting incident

A report found the Salmon Arm officer fired 14 bullets at the man’s truck

Most Read