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REPORTING · 13th February 2013
Walter McFarlane
Janet Munro, the director of the BC Meningitis Organization stepped up to the stand at Kitimat City Council on Monday, February 4th to give a heartfelt presentation. She expressed the group she represents is newly formed from bereaved parents who have lost their children to a strain of Meningitis which was preventable.

“I am here before you tonight seeking support from the District of Kitimat and Council in regards to a call to action initiative to implement meningitis vaccine clinics in our Northern Secondary Schools, April 24th, World Meningitis Day. That same day is vaccination week for BC,” said Munro.

She told Council how meningitis has affected her family, how she lost her 23 year old son, Bradley Munro on November 4th, 2011 due to a strain of meningitis at Thompson River University. Bradley Munro was a Cancer Survivor and his parents were under the impression he was vaccinated in School.

However, they discovered BC Children are not vaccinated against one strain of meningitis during their School years and there are many stains of meningitis. A vaccine was available which would have protected their son against the four of the most common strains of meningitis. This vaccine has been implemented in eight other provinces.

“Due to this vaccine not implemented in our BC Public Immunization Program, there is no awareness about meningitis or the vaccines available to purchase to protect the BC general public from this disease. Why has BC not implemented this vaccine, cost and the people in power to implement this vaccine has decided there is not enough incident of disease or deaths to warrant the costs to implement this vaccine in our public immunization program,” said Munro.

She told Council meningitis causes a swelling of the lining around the brain, the spinal cord and a blood infection. The onset and symptoms mimic the flu and is often misdiagnosed. If it is left untreated, a healthy youth or young adult will die within 48 hours. Of those who do seek medical attention, 10% die and 20% have a long term disability.

“The medical community says this disease is rare, only 1 in 10,000 contract the disease. However, 1 in 5 healthy adolescents or young adults carry the bacteria in their nose and throat at any time without showing any symptoms of the disease, that is about 25% of our population. The bacteria is spread through close contacts of secretions from nose and throat and the highest incident of disease is in our typical flu season,” said Munro.

She told Council vaccinating youth would help prevent the spread of the disease. The goal of Meningitis BC is to educate and create awareness about meningitis and make the vaccine available to everyone, not just the people who can ask and afford to pay for it.

“By supporting us and this lifesaving cause, you’ll be helping prevent another BC Child from dying or becoming permanently disabled from a vaccine preventable disease,” concluded Munro.

She asked Council to allow them to receive funds as a registered charitable status until they have their own charitable status which is pending, assist Meningitis BC in applying for funding and support lobbing efforts to have the vaccine implemented in BC Public Immunization Program with a submission to the North Central Local Government Association and the Union of BC Municipalities.

Councillor Rob Goffinet suggested putting the first part of the request through the Kitimat Hospital Foundation rather than through the District of Kitimat. Munro stated this was not about money, it was about vaccinating the kids. Councillor Corinne Scott suggested going through the Kitimat Foundation but Munro told her they needed to already have charitable status to be under their umbrella.

There were no further questions.

Later in the meeting, Scott made a motion for the District of Kitimat to submit resolutions to the NCLGA and the UBCM for 2013 to solicit support of all the Municipalities in BC for Meningitis Immunization and the Administration assist the organization in applying for grants.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated it was odd that 8 of the Provinces support the immunization but BC sends money to other provinces. Mayor Joanne Monaghan believed it would pass at those conferences.

Goffinet suggested a subsequent motion concerning the receiving of donations. Scott said she wanted to have her motion stand alone for now. The motion was called and carried.

Goffinet made a motion regarding the receiving of donations. His motion was for Council to direct staff to find a way to receive funds for the Meningitis Organization. Scott expressed Goffinet’s motion would tie up the administration when there are other organizations in Kitimat which would be better for doing it.

Staff told Council they probably would not be spending a lot of time on this. The motion was called and was carried.