Province wide meningitis immunization program set to begin

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By MorinvilleNews.com Staff

Edmonton – The government is launching a $2 million immunization program Tuesday to protect adolescents from meningococcal disease.

The province wide program will provide the meningococcal conjugate vaccine to as many as 40,000 students in Grade 9 through school-based clinics. The vaccine will protect against four different strains of meningococcal disease and will become part of the annual immunization program offered to Alberta adolescents.

“Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is a serious illness that can cause severe complications,” said Andre Corriveau, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in a release Monday. “Each year we see a number of cases of meningitis and many of these cases lead to hospitalization. We believe this immunization program will go a long way to protect adolescents who are at highest risk of contracting meningitis.”
The risk of spreading meningococcal disease increases during adolescence through the sharing of food, drinks, lipstick, lip balm, drinking straws, cigarettes and water bottles. This bacterium is spread through the saliva and is present in the nose and throat.
The school-based meningococcal immunization program is expected to result in high numbers of students completing the immunization. In Alberta, the Grade 9 diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis immunization program has shown successful results with more than 90 per cent of the students being immunized.
More information on the invasive meningococcal disease and the vaccine can be found at www.health.alberta.ca.

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