ONTARIO STUDENTS TO BENEFIT FROM NEW VACCINE

NEWS - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

McGuinty Government Adds Meningococcal Vaccine To Voluntary School

Immunization Program

NEWS June 1, 2009

2009-nr-046

Starting in September, parents will be able to choose to vaccinate their children against four strains of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD).

The Ontario government will be supplying the vaccine, Menactra, to public health units to use in the voluntary school-based immunization program for Grade 7 students.

In the school-based program, Menactra, which provides protection against four strains of IMD (A, C, W-135 and Y), replaces the current vaccine which guards against only the C strain. Oneyear old children, who are also immunized against IMD, will continue to receive the previous vaccine. Menactra is approved for use in Canada in children two years of age and older.

IMD is most common in young children and youth and can make them extremely ill very quickly. The disease can lead to serious infections of the blood, the lining of the brain and the spinal cord. Among those who survive the illness, it can cause permanent disability including deafness, neurological damage, and loss of limbs.

QUOTES

"The addition of this new vaccine enhances our publicly funded immunization program which is already one of the largest in North America and contributes significantly to the health of Ontarians." - David Caplan, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

"This new vaccine will ensure that children in the province receive the best possible protection against this deadly disease."
- Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health

"Ontario's schools will be working with public health units throughout the province to ensure Grade 7 students start receiving this new vaccine as soon as possible." - Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education

QUICK FACTS

- IMD is a rare but serious disease caused by a specific strain of bacteria, neisseria meningitidis. Up to 10 per cent of the population carry the bacteria; however, most people never develop an active form of the disease.

- From 1997 to 2007, an average of 67 cases of IMD was reported in Ontario each year.

- IMD is fatal in 8-15 per cent of cases.

- Menactra has been available in Ontario since 2007 to people with high risk medical conditions and for close contacts of a case of IMD.

LEARN MORE

Read more about Ontario's immunization program.

Find out more about meningococcal disease.

Steve Erwin, Minister's Office, 416-326-3986

Andrew Morrison, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,
416-314-6197

ontario.ca/health-news

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