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May 15, 2003
For immediate release

Minister Announces Immunization Program During Immunization Week

Health and Social Services

Health and Social Services Minister Jamie Ballem took the opportunity today, as part of Immunization Week, to announce that the Meningococcal C Vaccination Program will begin in June of this year and will be administered to children at 12 months of age. In addition, beginning in the next school year (2003-2004), meningococcal vaccine will be administered to Grade 9 students at the same time they receive their booster Tetanus/Diphtheria immunization.

Meningitis is a life-threatening illness of youth which has occurred in several parts of Canada in the past few years. This bacteria was responsible for the outbreak of bacterial meningitis in PEI in 1990 to 1992, when there were three deaths among young adults. To prevent similar occurrences in Prince Edward Island, public health staff will begin this year to administer Meningococcal C Vaccination, at an annual cost of $262,000. There will be no cost to the public for the meningococcal vaccine.

Minister Ballem also announced that the province will discontinue collecting the nominal fee that has been charged for routine childhood and school age immunizations. This includes routine recommended immunization, administered at Public Health Nursing clinics at the ages of 2, 4, 6, 12, 15, and 18 months, 4-6 years and in Grade 9. The vaccines administered at these ages protect against Diphtheria, Whooping Cough, Tetanus, Polio, Haemophilus Influenza B, Hepatitis B, Chickenpox, Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

Minister Ballem noted that these initiatives are another important contribution, by government, to the province's Healthy Child Development Strategy and the Health System Strategic Plan, emphasizing disease prevention and a healthy start for Island children.

National Immunization Week (May 11 -17) is part of the Canadian Immunization Awareness Program aimed at encouraging parents, caregivers and health providers in every community to take responsibility to ensure that children are immunized on time and receive the full schedule of vaccinations required to protect them from serious diseases.

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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