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Vaccine Preventable Diseases

*NEW: Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, students 12 years of age and older will be required to have the meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine or provide a valid exemption.

*NEW: Clinics will be offered in high schools (grade 9-12) for students that have not had the meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine.

Meningococcal Vaccine Program

What is Meningococcal Disease?

  • Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by several different strains of meningococcus, bacterium also known as Neisseria meningitidis.
  • The bacteria that cause this illness are commonly found in the nose and throat secretions of healthy people (i.e. mucous, saliva, cough).
  • Exposure to the bacteria occurs through direct contact with saliva or sharing of oral secretions i.e. sharing drinks, utensils, toothbrushes etc.

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How Meningococcal Disease Affects Your Health

  • Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or meningococcemia (an infection of the blood).
  • There are several different strains of the bacteria that cause disease, which are referred to as A, B, C, Y, W-135.
  • Signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, drowsiness, impaired consciousness, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and a reddish skin rash that appears flat and smooth.
  • Meningococcal disease can appear suddenly and cause the following complications:
    • Brain damage,
    • Deafness,
    • Seizures and other problems with the central nervous system,
    • Amputation of one or more limbs,
    • Death.
  • Meningococcal disease is fatal in 8-15% of all cases.

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How to Prevent Meningococcal Disease

  • Get immunized.
  • To prevent spreading the germs, avoid sharing items that have been in someone else’s mouth, for example, a cup, food, or a toothbrush.

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Protecting Against Meningococcal Disease through Immunization

In Canada, there are four types of vaccines that prevent meningococcal disease:

Meningococcal C (Conjugate)

  • Protects against one strain of meningococcal disease: C only.
  • Since 2005, routine immunization against meningococcal C disease has been recommended and publicly funded for children one year of age.
  • In the 2004/2005 school year, students in grade 7 and 15-19 year olds were offered the vaccine as a ‘catch-up’ program.
  • Students who were born between 1986 and 1996 remain eligible for a single dose of the meningococcal C vaccine at their family doctor.
  • Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, Meningococcal C vaccine will be required to attend school or provide a valid exemption for children born on or after September 1, 2004 (under age 12).

Meningococcal B (Multi-component)

  • Protects against one strain of meningococcal disease: B only.
  • Authorized for use in Canada for people between age 2 months to 17 years
  • This vaccine is not publicly funded (there is a cost to get this vaccine)
  • For additional information: Meningococcal B Vaccine.
  • Talk to your doctor about the Meningococcal B vaccine.

Meningococcal ACYW-135 (Polysaccharide)

  • Protects against four strains of meningococcal disease; A, C, Y, and W-135.
  • The polysaccharide meningococcal vaccine is available in Canada but its use is not routinely recommended as conjugate vaccines are most commonly used.
  • This vaccine may be used during outbreak situations.

Meningococcal ACYW-135 (Conjugate):

  • Protects against four strains of meningococcal disease; A, C, Y, and W-135.
  • Since the 2009-2010 school year, meningococcal ACYW-135 conjugate vaccine has been offered to grade 7 students in Ontario through school-based clinics replacing the meningococcal C grade 7 program.
  • Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, Meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine will be required to attend school for children born on or after January 1, 1997 (12 years and over).
  • The vaccine is safe and effective. The most common side effects reported include: redness, soreness or swelling at the site where the needle was given. Fever, headache, tiredness and/or muscle aches are also common.
  • The vaccine does not contain the whole virus. It contains only pieces of the virus, so you cannot be infected with meningococcal disease by getting the vaccine.

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The Grade 7 Meningococcal ACYW-135 (Conjugate) Immunization Program

*NEW: Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, students 12 years of age and older will be required to have the meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine or provide a valid exemption.
  • Consents are sent home with all grade 7 students in the fall of each school year and written parental/legal guardian permission is required for all students under 14 years of age.
  • Grade 7 students with a valid consent will be given one dose of the Meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine by Registered Nurses at school-based clinics.
  • Students who were eligible for this vaccine in grade 7 but didn’t receive it in their grade 7 year can still receive it in grade 8.
  • If your child is not in a traditional school setting, please call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700 to discuss available options for getting the vaccine.

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Meningococcal ACYW-135 High School Catch-up Clinics

*NEW: Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, students 12 years of age and older will be required to have the meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine or provide a valid exemption.
  • High school students (grade 9-12) that didn't receive the meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine in grade 7 or 8 will be offered the vaccine at catch-up clinics provided in their high school during the 2014-2015 school year.
  • Letters will be mailed to students that require the meningococcal vaccine with information about the requirements.
  • There will be two clinics booked at each school.
      • Round 1: November - April
      • Round 2: April - June
  • Consent forms will be provided to students on the day of the clinic. Students 14 years and older can sign their own consent.
  • Students with special needs will have their consent and assessment form provided to them prior to the clinic date for their parent/legal guardian to complete and return to the school.

Meningococcal High School Catch-up Clinic Schedule
Please note: The schedule will be updated as dates are confirmed with the schools.
The schedule may be subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances (weather, scheduling conflicts).

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Reliable Resources on Meningococcal Disease and the Meningococcal Vaccine

For more information call Peel Health at 905-799-7700.

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Immunize On Time. Report Every Time.

Revised: Monday January 12 2015

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