08/01/2012 02:51 EDT | Updated 10/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Grieving mother calls for expanded meningitis vaccine

A grieving B.C. mother is calling on the province to add a meningitis vaccine targeting the Y strain of the disease to its provincial vaccination program.

Mabel Chan's son Leo died in January of the deadly strain of bacterial meningitis just days after first complaining of a sore neck and mild flu.

"By the time we saw the doctor … we were told he was very, very sick and it’s not going to look good," she told Stephen Quinn, guest host of CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.

"He was on full life support … We went in to see him, he was in an induced coma. He was all distended in the face, in the body, with tubes all over his face and colouring over his body and face. I wouldn’t have recognized my son if I hadn’t been told. Not in a million years would I ever dream that I have to see my son like that, disappearing in front of me. His body was so ravaged."

Chan only learned after her son's death of a readily available vaccine to protect youth against the deadly strain, which isn't offered in B.C. schools.

"I wish I had known. Everything we know now, we found out after Leo’s passing and it’s too late. It’s not as rare as it sounds," she said.

"Why not B.C.? Why not us? Why are we not even being informed that there is a vaccine, and the risk our young people are in?"

The vaccine for the Y strain is part of provincial vaccination programs in seven Canadian provinces and territories, including Alberta and Ontario. It has also been endorsed by the B.C. Pediatric Society.

The B.C. Ministry of Health says it has no plans to include the vaccine in its standard course of children's vaccinations.

Chan says if she had known of the risk, she would have paid for the vaccine herself.

"Our children’s lives are priceless, Leo’s life is priceless … We would have paid anything to save our only child, my only child."