Almost 70 percent of Okanagan youth are now protected against meningococcal disease.

That was some of the good news that accompanies the Interior Health Region’s announcement today that it is declaring an end to a meningitis outbreak that laid siege to the region for more than three months at the end of 2017.

Almost 11,500 Okanagan youth aged 15-19 received immunizations administered during the outbreak, many of them at school clinics. Another 3,000 youth received the vaccine before the outbreak.

“I want to thank the public for helping us reach this milestone, by sharing information with their friends and family and encouraging those most at risk to get immunized,” said Dr. Silvina Mema, IHA’s Medical Health Officer.

“A large proportion of the high-risk population is now protected against meningococcal disease, which will greatly reduce the likelihood of future cases of this disease.”

 

From late September to November 2017, three cases of meningococcal disease were identified in the Oliver area, prompting the IHA to offer free immunization at Oliver Secondary School.

The program was later expanded to individuals up to age 24 in the Okanagan Falls and Osoyoos areas.

In mid-December, after an increasing trend of cases over a six-month period, Interior Health in consultation with the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Provincial Health Officer, declared an Okanagan-wide meningitis outbreak.

The outbreak declaration was immediately followed by a mass immunization campaign for all Okanagan residents in the 15-to-19 age group.

Interior Health is crediting its partnership with school officials and community stakeholders in the Okanagan and significant media coverage for a quick mobilization of school immunization clinics and availability of vaccine at local pharmacies

The IHA said it arranged for thousands of doses of vaccine to be transported from across Canada to fill that need. More than 16,600 doses of vaccine were delivered to the Okanagan during the outbreak.

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