Meningitis immunization campaign

- Anne MacLaurin

What do you do with unimaginable heartbreak? One couple, Mabel and C.K. Chan, are working to make sure that other parents never experience their loss—and that others’ children are protected from deadly meningitis infections.

The Chans lost their son, Leo, to meningitis five years ago, and have campaigned tirelessly ever since for increased awareness on university campuses about the disease. Leo, an UVic political science student, had a “clear desire to change the world and bring compassion to those around him” said a friend in a video about Leo.  

Leo’s parents have petitioned the BC Government and universities to boost their meningitis vaccine program. The BC government has recently made changes to its vaccine program and in September 2016 the meningococcal quadrivalent vaccine (which covers four strains of meningitis) was introduced to grade nine students, replacing the previous meningococcal C vaccine offered in grade six.

At UVic, Student Health Services is launching a first meningitis immunization campaign on March 1.  

“We have always offered the meningitis vaccine at the campus clinic, but given the improved BC program, we want our university students to know the benefits and harms and do the catch up, so that all young people will be safeguarded,” says Judy Burgess, Director of University Health Services.

“Although meningitis is not a frequent infection, the results are often devastating and life threatening, I would encourage all students to be vaccinated,” adds Burgess.

Last month in the Tri-City News reporter Gary McKenna helped to spread the word about Leo, meningitis, and his parents’ advocacy work.

Even though the Chan family is having success raising awareness, they have a new focus on grade 10-12 students who are getting ready to enter university. They believe it’s what Leo would have wanted. As Mabel told Tri-City News, “He would want us to advocate so that everybody has the right to know. I think that is paramount.”

UVic vaccine info: UVic Health Services

Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada


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Keywords: health, disease

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