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January 27, 2005
Meningitis C vaccine campaign for teens launched
A campaign is being launched today to offer free Meningitis C vaccines to
approximately 180,000 youth in Toronto between the ages of 15 and 19.

"We are encouraging teens to protect themselves from an infection that is
uncommon, but can lead to serious injury or death," said Dr. Michael
Finkelstein, an Associate Medical Officer of Health at Toronto Public Health.

Meningitis C is a bacterial infection of the blood, lining of the brain and/or
spinal cord. The bacteria can be spread by kissing, coughing, sharing common
items such as eating utensils, cups, cigarettes, musical instruments and other
contact where saliva is passed from one person to another.

Under the provincially funded campaign to prevent Meningitis C, the vaccine is
free for:
  • youth who are between 15 and 19 years of age in 2005
  • students who are in Grade 7 or are 12 years of age
  • individuals at increased risk of illness from Meningitis C due to certain chronic conditions
  • people in close or direct contact with a person who has Meningitis C
  • one-year old children born on or after September 1, 2003.

Toronto Public Health nurses will be visiting all high schools and elementary
schools in Toronto between January and May to offer the Meningitis C vaccine.
Other eligible individuals can obtain a Meningitis C vaccine through their
family doctor. The campaign includes education messages emphasizing that teens
are at higher risk: "There is more sharing of food, drinks, cigarettes and
kisses. Spit happens!"

There is an average of six cases of Meningitis C reported in Toronto every
year. For more background information on Meningitis C, visit

Media Contact:
Frank Giorno, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974



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