Community NewsToronto

Toronto Public Health Urges Vaccination as Meningococcal Disease Cases Surge

Toronto — Toronto Public Health (TPH) is calling for immediate action as the city witnesses a sharp increase in invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) cases. With 13 cases reported this year—an unprecedented number since 2002—TPH emphasizes the critical importance of meningococcal vaccination. Alarmingly, two of these cases have resulted in fatalities.

IMD, a life-threatening bacterial infection, can escalate rapidly, causing meningitis and bloodstream infections. The disease has been on the rise both domestically and internationally, affecting individuals regardless of their travel history. Children under five, teenagers, and young adults who are unvaccinated are particularly susceptible.

Travel and Event Precautions

TPH specifically advises travelers and event participants to ensure they are vaccinated:

  • Hajj Pilgrimage: With the annual Hajj drawing nearly two million people to Mecca from June 14 to 19, the risk of infection is heightened. Vaccination is strongly recommended for all participants.
  • Pride Events: Individuals attending local and international Pride events should also be protected with the meningococcal vaccine.

Vaccination Access and Eligibility

Unvaccinated adults aged 18 to 36 can receive a free meningococcal vaccine through publicly funded programs. Additionally, parents, guardians, and caregivers should verify that their children are up to date with their vaccinations. The vaccine is typically administered at 12 months and again in grade seven as required by Ontario’s Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA). For those who missed the vaccine, it is available for free at TPH vaccination clinics, with appointments bookable at TPHbookings.ca.

Recognizing Symptoms and Seeking Help

IMD can spread through close or prolonged contact involving respiratory and throat secretions. Symptoms often begin with fever, aches, joint pain, headache, stiff neck, and increased sensitivity to light. Due to the severe and rapid nature of the disease, TPH urges anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.

For more information on meningococcal disease and vaccination, visit toronto.ca/meningococcal.

Public Health Advisory

“We are seeing an alarming rise in meningococcal disease cases this year,” said a spokesperson for TPH. “Vaccination is the best protection against this potentially deadly infection. We urge all eligible individuals to get vaccinated as soon as possible, especially those planning to travel or participate in large gatherings.”

With IMD posing a significant health threat, TPH’s urgent call to action highlights the importance of community-wide vigilance and proactive health measures. Ensuring widespread vaccination is key to preventing further cases and safeguarding public health.

Kelly

Kelly Deschamps is the dedicated City Hall Reporter, bringing forth the pulse of municipal affairs with precision and clarity. With an astute eye for detail and a passion for uncovering the stories that shape urban life, Deschamps delivers comprehensive coverage of local governance. For inquiries or feedback, contact Kelly at kelly.deschamps@gtaweekly.ca

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