News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 2, 2024

Manitoba Government Improving Meningococcal Vaccine Program to Better Protect Infants

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Catch-up Program will be Open to Children under Four: Asagwara

Manitoba public health officials are updating the routine immunization program to better protect infants and children from meningococcal disease with broader immunity that will help prevent serious outcomes from these infections, Health, Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Uzoma Asagwara announced today. 

“On the advice of our public health experts, we are expediting a new and improved meningococcal vaccine, formulated to better protect young children and infants,” said Asagwara. “We want to give them the best protection possible against a very serious disease.” 

Meningococcal disease is mostly caused by five types of the meningococcal bacteria: A, B, C, Y and W. Manitoba’s childhood immunization program currently recommends a meningococcal vaccine for infants at 12 months of age that protects against the meningococcal bacteria type C. Effective March 1, the province will begin using a quadrivalent vaccine which protects against four types of the meningococcal bacteria including the W type, which is the cause of the cluster of cases recently identified in Manitoba. 

Children under the age of four are at the greatest risk of serious illness from meningococcal disease. As part of this change and a catch-up campaign, the quadrivalent vaccine will be available to:

  • 12-month-old infants who have not yet received a meningococcal vaccine;
  • children born between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2023, who have not yet been immunized against meningococcal disease, recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted routine immunizations; and
  • children born between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2023, who were previously vaccinated against the meningococcal bacteria type C so they have the additional protection offered by this vaccine. It is safe for these children to receive a quadrivalent vaccine, which should be spaced at least four weeks apart from their last dose.

Parents and caregivers of children scheduled to receive their 12-month vaccines before March 1 are encouraged to speak to their health-care providers about the change to the immunization program to understand what their options are. 

“I strongly encourage caregivers to have infants and young children immunized with the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “Vaccinations continue to be one of the best ways to protect against serious infections and we know meningococcal infections can be very dangerous for young children. The recent increase in invasive meningococcal disease in the community really underlines the importance of keeping up to date with vaccinations in childhood and throughout our lives.” 

Earlier today, the province sent a letter to health-care providers with more information about these changes and how to order the quadrivalent vaccine for infants and other eligible children. The Manitoba government expects a supply of the quadrivalent vaccine to be available on or before March 1, noted the minister. 

This vaccine will be available at medical clinics and public health offices. 

In June, the province will follow up with a letter to all parents of children born in the eligible cohort, with a reminder to book their child’s vaccination. 

The quadrivalent vaccine has been offered as part of Manitoba’s school-based vaccination program since 2019. Many older children have received or will be eligible in Grade 6 to receive the vaccine. 

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is often spread through the air from coughing or sneezing. Infected individuals can develop serious and sometimes life-threatening infections in the brain and the blood. Even with prompt medical treatment, meningococcal infections are fatal in 10 per cent of those infected. Of those who survive the disease, 20 per cent may suffer permanent brain damage, loss of limbs and neurologic disabilities including hearing loss, seizures, paralysis and developmental delays. 

Public health officials have previously reported a cluster of invasive meningococcal disease cases, affecting children and adults. Since Dec. 21, 2023, a total of nine cases have been identified including one death. For more information about meningococcal disease and data about invasive meningococcal disease cases, visit:

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