The month and a half long meningococcal outbreak in the Okanagan isn't over quite yet.
Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Karin Goodison said during a press conference today, Feb. 5, there have been no further cases since the last one reported in late December — two weeks after the outbreak was declared — but vaccinations will still be offered free of charge for at least another week and a half.
“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 old age group,” Goodison says. “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.”
Interior Health has administered 14,486 immunizations in the Okanagan since the meningococcal disease outbreak. It has been confirmed the disease caused one person’s death.
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, according to Interior Health.
After the outbreak is declared over, only students in grade nine and 10 will be eligible to receive this vaccine for free at health centres.
Assuming no additional cases of meningococcal disease are reported over the next seven days, Goodison says Interior Health expects to declare an end to the outbreak on Feb. 13.
Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that occurs rarely in Canada and is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or close face-to-face contact.
It can also spread through saliva, during such activities such as kissing or sharing of food, drinks, cigarettes, lipsticks, water bottles, mouth guards used for sports, or mouthpieces of musical instruments.
For more information about the meningococcal quadrivalent vaccine, visit HealthLink BC.
To find an immunization clinic near you, visit interiorhealth.ca.
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