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Health Unit again offering vaccines to Grade 7 students

SIMCOE, ON, AUG. 23, 2007 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is again offering its annual hepatitis B and meningococcal C vaccines to Grade 7 students.

“Information kits with consent forms have been sent to the schools and will be distributed to the children through their teachers in early September,” said Clinical Services Team Program Coordinator Wendy Holmes. “Parents should return those consents to the schools as soon as possible.”

Registered nurses from the Health Unit will administer the vaccines, which are recommended as part of Ontario’s Grade 7 Immunization Program.

Approximately 1,500 students in Haldimand and Norfolk counties are eligible for the vaccines. The hepatitis B vaccine is given in two doses, the first to be given during September/October and the second to be given in February/March. The one-dose meningococcal C vaccine will be given with the second hepatitis B dose.

“Although hep-B and men-C vaccines are not required to attend school, they are a very important way to protect your child’s health,” Holmes said.

In 1994, the Ministry of Health expanded the hepatitis B program to include routine immunization of all Grade 7 students. Any child born after 1982 is eligible for the hepatitis B vaccine if he or she did not receive it in Grade 7.

Hepatitis B is a virus that can permanently damage the liver and is spread through the blood and other body fluids of an infected person. It can be spread through used needles, body/ear piercing or tattooing with dirty equipment. Hepatitis B cannot be passed through coughing, hugging or using the same eating utensils. People with the disease often become tired, feverish, lose their appetites and sometimes have yellow colouring of their skin and eyes, known as jaundice. A person can carry this virus unknowingly and infect someone.

Meningococcal C is a virus that lives in the saliva of an infected person, so it can be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, or by contact through kissing or sharing of water bottles, straws, toothbrushes or lipstick. The germ can cause pneumonia, meningitis and sometimes death or long-lasting complications.

“The Health Unit started giving meningococcal C shots in 2001 as part of the Grade 7 Immunization Program,” Holmes explained. “It is a very important vaccine and all children born between 1992 and 2003 are eligible for the vaccine. That age group is targeted because teenagers are at higher risk of contracting the disease.”

Parents or students with any questions about the vaccinations may call the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170.

Media Contacts:

Wendy Holmes, Program Coordinator
Clinical Services Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3152

or

Rose Huyge, Registered Nurse
Vaccine Preventable Disease Program
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext. 3227