British Columbia

Lack of meningitis vaccine pains grieving parents

A B.C. father says he's frustrated that a vaccine still is not being freely provided for a strain of bacterial meningitis that killed his 15-year-old son five years ago.

Rare strain of bacterial illness killed couple's teenaged son

Brodie Campbell died five years ago, hours after he was rushed to hospital with a sudden infection. (CBC)

A B.C. father says he's growing increasingly frustrated that a vaccine against a deadly infection that killed his teenage son is still not covered by health care.

Tuesday is the fifth anniversary of the death of Brodie Campbell, 15 who died of bacterial meningitis. In a painful irony for his parents, it is also World Meningitis Day.

Colin Campbell and his wife planned drive to Harrison, B.C., Tuesday afternoon to visit the site where their son's ashes were spread.

On the same day in 2007, Brodie was rushed to hospital, where he died within hours.   "Oh, we soldier on," Campbell said. "Some of my son's friends were here at the door dropping off flowers, saying that they remember, and they miss him."

Bacterial meningitis is a rare infection of fluid around the brain caused by a number of different bacterial strains.

British Columbians get vaccinated for some of those bacteria, but not all — and not the rare "Y" type that killed Brodie Campbell.

There is a vaccine for it, but the provincial medical system doesn't cover the $130 cost.

"The primary reason we have not introduced a quadrivalent vaccine is because of the rarity of group Y and W135 disease," said Dr. Monika Naus, of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

But some provinces are now covering the vaccine and Campbell wants B.C. to do the same.

"I agree it's a fairly rare disease, but rare as it is, it isn't rare enough," he said.

Campbell said he and other grieving parents will continue to fight for free access to the vaccine to prevent similar tragedies.

Other parents of meningitis victims have started a petition — at — in an attempt to pressure the province to fund the vaccine.

While the four-strain vaccine may not be covered by health care in B.C., it is available for purchase.

Travel clinics run by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority travel clinics are offering a $50 discount on the special vaccine starting this week, charging $80 until supplies run out.


With files from the CBC's Stephanie Mercier