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New Vaccinations And The Free Flu Shot Help Keep Ontarians Healthy

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New Vaccinations And The Free Flu Shot Help Keep Ontarians Healthy

Office of the Premier

The McGuinty government is providing $156 million in funding over the next three years to add three new vaccines for children -- two against meningitis and one against chicken pox. The government will also continue the free flu shot program.

Ontario children will be protected from the risk of serious infection and death from meningitis and chicken pox. These measures will help make Ontarians healthier and save health dollars in the long run.

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN'S HEALTH

The vaccine for invasive meningococcal disease will be made available to designated target groups of children and youth as well as high-risk people of all ages. Invasive meningococcal disease can result in meningitis (an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and meningococcemia (a rapidly progressing, life-threatening infection of the blood stream, which can spread throughout the body). It is a serious disease that often results in death or complications such as neurological disorders, deafness or limb amputations.

The vaccine for pneumococcal meningitis will be made available to infants and high-risk children under the age of five. Invasive pneumococcal disease is caused by the pneumococcus bacteria. Once these bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can cause infection of other parts of the body including meningitis and pneumonia.

The vaccine for varicella (chicken pox) will be made available to children and youth as well as other high-risk people. Chicken pox affects over 95 per cent of the population. Chicken pox can range from a mild illness with a fever and rash to a more severe illness. Complications occur in 5-10 per cent of previously healthy children. These complications can include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), bacterial infections of the skin and flesh-eating disease.

ONTARIO'S FREE FLU SHOT PROGRAM

The 2004 free flu shot program will begin in October. The influenza immunization is available to everyone in the province, but is not recommended for children under six months of age and people who have a serious allergy to eggs or egg products, a severe allergic reaction to a past flu shot or a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The free flu shot will continue to lessen the number of cases of flu and will protect those people who could suffer complications from the flu.

The free flu shot program has been offered for the last four years. Each year, more than four million Ontarians have received a flu shot.

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Health and Wellness Children and Youth