Interior Health expands meningococcal precautions in South Okanagan

Oliver, Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls included in the expanded precautionary immunization measure

Interior Health is expanding immunizations for meningococcal disease to individuals 15-24 years of age in the Oliver region.

This includes people from Osoyoos and Okanagan Falls who frequent the Oliver area. The Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine (Men-C-ACYW-135) will be offered free of charge to ensure appropriate protection. Clinics are at the Oliver Health Centre on Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Nov. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. Those who are going to be vaccinated are asked to bring their immunization records and B.C. Services card/Care Card to the clinic.

Interior Health advises that individuals who are showing symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck, or vomiting, to seek medical attention. They ask that you do not visit local hospitals to obtain a vaccine, but attend one of the IH-offered clinics noted above.

Related: Two confirmed cases of meningococcal disease in Oliver

The precautionary measure is being taken after IH became aware of a third individual in the community who contracted meningococcal disease in early October. In a press release issued on Friday, IH indicated this is not a new case and there is no indication of sustained transmission of the bacteria in the community. This individual did not attend South Okanagan Secondary, but had social linkages to the school.

Although the risk remains low, Interior Health is reaching out to the 15-24 age group for immunization because meningococcal disease is reported more frequently among this age group.

They are also encouraging any students and staff at South Okanagan Secondary School who have not yet been vaccinated to attend an upcoming clinic. Individuals in this age group should continue to practice good personal hygiene by not sharing cigarettes or water bottles, by coughing into elbows or sleeves and by frequently washing their hands.

Transmission of meningococcal disease is by direct contact with the secretions of the nose and throat of infected individuals, or by respiratory droplets. Symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, severe headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, rash, drowsiness or confusion and seizures.

For additional information about meningococcal disease, visit HealthLinkBC.

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