WHITEHORSE – Health and Social Services Minister Peter Jenkins announced his department is taking further steps to protect the health of Yukon’s children and youth by expanding of the territory’s immunization program. His announcement marks the beginning of National Immunization Awareness Week.
Beginning June 1, 2005, graduating Yukon high school students will be able to receive free meningococcal C conjugated vaccine to protect them from meningitis and other serious infections from the meningococcal bacteria. The risk of meningococcal infection may be greater for those students attending post secondary institutions.
The program will also include post-secondary students who return to the Yukon for the summer months. Previously, youth requiring vaccination against meningococcal disease were required to pay.
"We want to make sure that our young people have the best protection possible against meningococcal disease," Jenkins said. "In recent years there have been outbreaks of meningococcal infection in Alberta, Ontario and B.C. We want parents to know their Yukon students have been protected against this very serious disease."
The minister also announced two additions to the Yukon’s free childhood immunization program. Beginning June 1, Yukon infants will be offered meningococcal C conjugated vaccine and a vaccine against pneumococcal diseases, as part of the regular immunization program.
To ensure that older children are also protected against pneumococcal infection, the department will be undertaking a catch-up program for children up to the age of five years.
Yukon’s immunization programs for children and youth currently include vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, whooping cough, Haemophilus influenzae and hepatitis B.
"Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect against some very serious infections," Jenkins said. "We are very proud that our immunization program will place it among the best in the country. This is an investment in healthy futures for our children, healthy communities and a healthy territory."
The cost of these new programs is expected to be approximately $200,000.
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|Pat Living, Communications||Peter Carr|
|Health and Social Services||Cabinet Communications Advisor|
|(867) 667-3673||(867) 667-8688|