News release

More Nova Scotians Eligible for Meningococcal B Vaccine

The Province is offering the meningococcal B vaccine for free to young Nova Scotians who will be living in a group setting such as a university residence for the first time.

The high-risk vaccine policy now includes Nova Scotia youth aged 25 and under who are:

  • entering post-secondary studies and will be in a congregate living setting (such as a dormitory or other residence) operated by a post-secondary institution for the first time
  • first-time military recruits who will be living in a congregate setting such as a military barrack.

“Invasive meningococcal disease is very rare and not spread easily, but it can be life-threatening. There are certain factors that put people at increased risk of infection, such as youth living in a large group setting for the first time,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Adding these specific groups to our existing high-risk policy is an important step in supporting such individuals to reduce their risk.”

People can book appointments starting Monday, May 29, at: . Vaccines will be administered at select pharmacies.

Public health recommends those who are eligible get vaccinated before they start living in a congregate setting. Full protection against meningococcal B disease requires two doses of the vaccine. The second dose is administered at least four weeks after the first dose.

The bacteria that can cause invasive meningococcal disease are spread through direct contact with the saliva or spit of an infected person. Some examples are:

  • kissing or close physical contact
  • sharing utensils, drinking glasses, water bottles, toothbrushes or lipstick
  • sharing vapes and cigarettes.

The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease do not spread through the air or by being near a person. For example, the disease cannot be contracted by sitting next to or taking a class with someone who is infected, or by walking in the halls with someone who is sick with the illness. It is also not spread through air circulation systems.

The publicly funded immunization program will continue for people who are at high risk, close contacts of people with meningococcal B disease and in outbreak situations as determined by public health.

Quick Facts:

  • a youth-based congregate living setting is defined as an institutional residence/dormitory with 13 or more adolescents or young adults (most or all of whom are not related) who use shared spaces such as common sleeping areas, bathrooms and kitchens
  • people who are not eligible for the publicly funded meningococcal B vaccine can consider paying for this vaccine after talking to a healthcare provider
  • children may receive meningococcal C vaccine at 12 months of age and a quadrivalent vaccine (meningococcal A C W Y) is offered in Grade 7

Additional Resources:

Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve healthcare: