Grade 9s to be vaccinated against meningitis



Grade 9 students across Alberta will be vaccinated against meningitis starting Feb. 1.

The Alberta government will begin rolling out the school-based immunization program Tuesday.

The $2-million program will provide the meningococcal conjugate vaccine to up to 40,000 students through school clinics.

The school-based program is expected to result in high numbers of students completing the immunization, said Andre Corriveau, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a media release.

The vaccine will protect against four different strains of meningococcal disease and will become part of the annual immunization program offered to adolescents in Alberta, he said.

The risk of spreading meningococcal disease increases during adolescence through the sharing of food, drinks, lipstick, lip balm, drinking straws, cigarettes and water bottles.

The bacterium is spread through the saliva and is present in the nose and throat.

“Invasive meningococcal disease is a serious illness that can cause severe complications,” said Corriveau. “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.”