Nova Scotia

Acadia University students line up for meningitis vaccinations

Hundreds of students at Acadia University lined up on Wednesday to get vaccinated against an outbreak of meningococcal meningitis at the Wolfville school.

Clinic set up at the Fountain Commons on Wolfville campus

Cameron Ashe, an Acadia University student, arrived at the meningitis vaccination clinic half an hour before it began and said he was shocked to find fellow students were already in line. (CBC)

Hundreds of students at Acadia University lined up on Wednesday to get vaccinated against an outbreak of meningococcal meningitis at the Wolfville school.

Lesley Mulcahy, a spokeswoman for Annapolis Valley Health, said officials gave the first dose of vaccinations to 526 people — mostly students — during the first day of vaccinations.

Acadia University says Hope Maryka is recovering from meningococcal meningitis. (Acadia University/Twitter)

"I think that our public health team was anticipating or hoping to have between 200 and 400 students today so I think that's quite a positive number especially considering it is reading week for Acadia University," Mulcahy told CBC News.

"The student population at Acadia is approximately 4,100 students so we're hoping for 100 per cent of course. So we'll see where we are next week once we finish up with the clinics, to see where we are at. But certainly with a positive turnout today we're very hopeful that our numbers will be quite high."

Public Health officials set up the immunization clinic at the Fountain Commons on campus. There will be four other vaccinations days:

  • Thursday, Feb. 19 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 23 from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Another round of clinics will take place before the end of the term for the second dose of the vaccine.

Cameron Ashe, an Acadia University student who was vaccinated on Wednesday, said he showed up half an hour before the clinic opened and was "shocked" to find there was already a line.

"I thought I'd be the first one," he said.

"We were all fairly affected by the recent tragedy and now that Public Health kind of came out with the recommendations on how to move forward and the best course of action, I think the majority of the student body and the student population felt that they would kind of adhere to that recommendation, come out and get vaccinated."

Another round of clinics will take place at Acadia University before the end of the term for the second dose of the vaccine. (CBC)

Acadia University has been hit by two cases of the B strain of the illness. Sarah Hastings, a first year business administration student, died Feb. 1 after becoming ill. Hope Maryka, in the same year and program as Hastings, is recovering.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief public health officer, announced last week that a free, two-dose vaccination program would be available for all students at the campus in Wolfville. Faculty and staff with certain medical conditions can also get vaccinated.

Officials said they ordered enough doses to vaccinate about 4,000 people at a cost of approximately $650,000.

Health officials say the risk of getting the meningitis strain remains low.

Four cases

There have been four cases of meningitis in Nova Scotia so far this year, but they don't all involve the same strain.

Rylee Sears, a Grade 10 student from Lower Sackville, died one week before Hastings. Sears had contracted a different strain of meningitis — the Y strain — which will be covered in Nova Scotia's new vaccination formula being rolled out this fall.

A first-year male student at St. Francis Xavier University student contracted the B strain in November and the Y strain in January. He was hospitalized both times. The sick student lived in residence. He's now sitting out the semester with his family in Ontario.

Strang said the last meningitis outbreak in Nova Scotia was in the early 1990s.

With files from the Canadian Press

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