Interior Health has expanded its effort to protect young people against a meningococcal disease outbreak.

IH is offering immunization clinics for all Okanagan residents in Grades 9-12 and for all those aged 15-19 years old who don’t attend school, including evening clinics this week.

“Immunization is the best form of defence against this disease,” said Dr. Karin Goodison, Medical Health Officer. “We are encouraging all people in this age group who live in the Okanagan, to get immunized.”

In 2017, there have been 11 identified cases of meningococcal disease – a majority of these cases were in the Okanagan.

Typically, there are fewer than five cases per year.

“The risk to the general population is low,” said Goodison. “However, with the increase in the number of cases and the fact that this disease can be prevented through immunization, we felt it important to raise the public’s awareness about this disease, and roll out a campaign to immunize those at the highest risk.”

Immunization clinics have been happening throughout the Okanagan in an effort to immunize all students before winter holidays.

IH will also be offering immunization at public health centres for people who are not attending school or who have missed their school immunization clinic.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that occurs rarely in Canada that is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or close face-to-face contact. It can also spread through saliva, through kissing, sharing food or drinks, cigarettes, lipsticks, water bottles, mouth guards used for sports, or mouthpieces of musical instruments.

More details are available on Interior Health’s website.