A provincewide program designed to help individuals catch-up on their measles immunizations is off to a good start.
According to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, the program has offered 15,796 doses of measles-containing vaccine since its launch April 1 until May 30 to kids in kindergarten up to Grade 12.
A news release noted that figure was a preliminary total and is expected to increase when all records are collected from community pharmacists and care-providers.
During the first two months of the program:
• A total of 858 in-school clinics and 2,388 public health clinics were hosted throughout B.C.
• Immunization records for 566,106 students were reviewed.
Still another 230 in-school immunization clinics and more than 900 public health clinics are scheduled through the end of June.
The B.C. government expects to share details in the fall about how it will require students to report their immunization status.
Another case of measles has been confirmed in the Lower Mainland, bringing the total number of cases in B.C. to 22, according to the Fraser Health Authority.
Dr. Shovita Padhi, a medical officer with Fraser Health, said the new case is unrelated to an outbreak in Vancouver earlier this year, and was acquired abroad.
Padhi wouldn’t specify where the person was infected, but said with measles cases rising dramatically across the globe, it’s crucial anyone travelling outside Canada ensures they have had two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).
The person used public transit March 27, while they were infectious, and an investigation determined when and where people may have been exposed:
• The No. 323 bus between 8 and 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.
• The Expo Line between 8 and 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m.
• Lobby and elevators at 666 Burrard St. in Vancouver and the Ascenda School of Management, at the same location, between 8:55 a.m. and 2:05 p.m.
The 323 bus travels between Newton Exchange and Surrey Central Station.
Padhi urges anyone who may have been exposed to keep an eye out for symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that first develops at the hairline. If they seek medical attention, they should call their doctor’s office first to avoid exposing other people, she added.
Padhi said immunization in the Fraser Health region has improved this year, with public-health units administering 5,768 MMR vaccines since mid-February this year, compared with 2,882 of the vaccines during the same period in 2018.
Two cases of measles were reported by Island Health on March 29 and Interior Health issued two bulletins about possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 9 and 22, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Another case was confirmed in the Fraser Valley earlier in March.
Twelve of the 15 cases in Vancouver have been directly linked to an outbreak that began at École Secondaire Jules-Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents, after a student contracted the disease during an overseas family trip. The remaining three cases were acquired while travelling, but not linked to the school outbreak.
Last month, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced $3 million in additional funding for the measles vaccine and a campaign to encourage immunization through the schools, health authorities and media.
-With files from Stephanie Ip and Vaughn Palmer
CLICK HERE to report a typo.
Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].
VICTORIA — British Columbia has recorded 19 confirmed cases of measles this year and the province is responding by launching a measles immunization catch-up drive next month, aiming to vaccinate 95 per cent of the province’s youth.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says provincial data from 2018 indicates 82 per cent of seven-year-olds in B.C. have been immunized against measles, a number he says needs improvement.
Dix says the catch-up program will run from April to June, protecting as many kindergarten to Grade 12 students as possible before the end of the school year.
The program will be offered in schools, public health units and community health centres and Dix says it will also include pharmacies.
The goal is to reach students who have never been vaccinated, but the program will also offer second-dose shots for students who have not completed the required schedule of two vaccinations.
Dix says letters will be sent to parents and guardians of children whose vaccination status is not up-to-date.
CLICK HERE to report a typo.
Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].
There are now 17 cases of measles in B.C., the latest of which is located in the Fraser Valley and is linked to the Vancouver outbreak.
The most recent case was confirmed Wednesday in a Fraser Valley resident, according to Fraser Health medical health officer Aamir Bharmal. The individual had been exposed to one of the infected measles patients in the outbreak originating at two Vancouver schools.
“This individual was isolated since their exposure and there is no concern relating to public exposure at this time,” Bharmal said in an emailed statement.
He also confirmed there is no measles outbreak at any Fraser Health-area schools and no known measles exposure in Fraser Health’s coverage areas.
Bharmal said Fraser Health is aware of rumours there may be a measles outbreak at Tri-City schools, but there has not been any confirmation from school officials or a health authority.
“We continue to advise individuals who have any of the symptoms of measles, such as a fever or rash, to call 811, their health care provider or public health for guidance on follow-up care,” he said.
“We also remind everyone to ensure their immunizations are up-to-date.”
Of the other 16 cases, 15 are located in Vancouver. It is unclear where the 16th case is located or when it was confirmed.
Twelve of the 15 Vancouver cases are directly linked to an outbreak that began at École Jules‐Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents, after a student contracted the disease during an overseas family trip. The remaining three cases were acquired while travelling but not linked to the school outbreak.
Two new cases of measles have been reported in Vancouver, bringing the total number of infections in the area to 15.
Vancouver Coastal Health said both new cases are related to the outbreak centred on two French-language schools.
It says both individuals had been receiving follow-up care as they were known to have been exposed to people with measles infections.
Of the 15 measles cases in the Vancouver area, 12 are related to the school outbreak that began when one child acquired the disease while travelling in Asia.
The health authority says the three other cases are unrelated to the school outbreak and were acquired while the people were travelling.
The authority says it’s possible that more cases might occur in people who were previously exposed, since the incubation period for measles is 21 days.
Luke Hendry /
Luke Hendry/Belleville Intellige
VANCOUVER — A medical health officer in Vancouver says measles is not expected to spread beyond a cluster of patients but anyone travelling to other parts of the world should ensure they are vaccinated against the contagious disease.
Dr. Reka Gustafson of Vancouver Coastal Health says people often go to a travel clinic before a trip to get protection against diseases that don’t circulate locally and it’s a good opportunity to ensure all childhood vaccinations are up to date.
She says most people in B.C. are vaccinated and older adults may already have had measles but anyone born after 1970 should ensure they have two doses of a vaccine, which is routinely given to children at age one and then between the ages of four and six.
Two new cases were reported in the province Sunday, bringing the total to 13, with most of them linked to two French-language schools after an unvaccinated child contracted the disease during a trip to Vietnam.
Gustafson says it took a week to get all the students’ immunization records and improvements are needed to ensure a quicker system limits disruption to families as well as use of health-care resources.
Symptoms of measles include a runny nose, cough, fever, red, itchy eyes and sometimes a rash, and Gustafson says parents who suspect their child has the disease should call their doctor’s office in advance in order to get a separate room.
Vancouver health authorities confirmed two new cases of measles in the city, separate from the ongoing outbreak linked to two francophone schools.
The two individuals contracted measles while travelling and are unrelated to the outbreak that began at École Jules‐Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents.
The update came the same day Alberta Health Services issued a measles exposure warning in that province, after a passenger with measles travelled from Vancouver to Edmonton on an Air Canada flight earlier this month.
According to AHS, an individual with a confirmed case of measles was found to have visited Leduc, Alta. while infectious. The person boarded Air Canada flight AC236 departing from Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 10:25 a.m. and landed at Edmonton International Airport around 12:54 p.m.
The infected traveller then took an airport shuttle, which dropped off travellers to Paradise Inn and Suites, Crystal Star Inn, Wyndham Garden Edmonton Airport, and Wingate by Wyndham between 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Other exposure times include Feb. 12 at Walmart Supercentre (5 to 7 p.m.); Feb. 13 on board an airport shuttle pickup from Crystal Star Inn (6:30 to 7a.m.), a Canadian North Flight #5T-444 to Inuvik departing from Edmonton airport around 7:45 a.m.; Feb. 12 and 13 at Stars Inn Hotel (3 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.)
“Given the timeframe of the potential exposure, post-exposure immunization is not effective,” read a AHS health advisory.
“Individuals are encouraged to monitor for symptoms for 21 days after the date of potential exposure, which could be up to March 5, 2019.”
VCH is expected to provide an update Sunday afternoon about the new cases of measles.
A measles outbreak is underway in Vancouver, after an unvaccinated child contracted the disease during a trip to Vietnam last month. The child visited B.C. Children’s Hospital and returned to school in late January and early February, prompting Vancouver Coastal Health to issue a warning.
Up to 36 people linked to the child’s school have been ordered to stay at home because they are either unvaccinated and are waiting out the incubation period, or have been able to provide proof of immunization.
Community pharmacists in B.C. have joined a chorus of health officials urging residents to get vaccinated after a recent outbreak of measles in Vancouver.
The B.C. Pharmacy Association is reminding the public that pharmacists across the province are prepared to give booster shots or new vaccinations to adults and children five years or older. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is publicly-funded and available from pharmacists in nearly every community, the association said in a news release Friday.
“Community pharmacists are one of the most accessible health care providers and have had the authority to provide injections since 2009,” said the association’s CEO, Geraldine Vance.
“Families and individuals looking to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date can go to their local pharmacist for care.”
Vancouver Coastal Health also recommends vaccinations. People who have previously had the infection do not need immunization.
B.C. children born in or after 1994 routinely get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, one dose when they turn a year old and another before they start kindergarten.
People born before 1994 or who grew up outside of B.C. may need a second dose. People born before 1970 are likely immune; but if they aren’t sure whether they have had the infection, they can safely get the MMR vaccine.
Vaccinations and boosters are also available at doctors’ offices, and Immunization B.C. provides a map of local health units offering publicly-funded vaccinations at immunizebc.ca/finder. Services vary by location.
Earlier this week, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said measles is a “serious and highly contagious disease” and that getting inoculated is the best way to avoid getting sick — and transmitting it to others who may be unprotected.
Tam’s comments Tuesday came after a cluster of nine cases of measles in Vancouver that began in recent weeks after an unvaccinated Canadian child contracted the disease on a family trip to Vietnam.
The rate of immunization among students at the two Vancouver schools where the outbreak originated has since increased, according to an update earlier this week from Vancouver Coastal Health.
At École Secondaire Jules‐Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents, both francophone schools, the measles immunization rate is now 95.5 and 94 per cent respectively, said Althea Hayden, a medical health officer, at a news conference Tuesday.
“Before this outbreak started, we had documentation for only about 70 per cent of students having immunity,” said Hayden, adding that the rise in immunity is not just due to new vaccinations but also the result of those who have now reported their vaccination records, when their immunization status was previously undeclared.
Herd immunity requires a threshold of about 92 per cent.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control tracks child immunization and reports that 82.1 per cent of children aged seven had been immunized for measles in 2018, compared to 88.4 per cent in 2017 and 90.2 per cent in 2016.
With files from Tiffany Crawford, Stephanie Ip and The Canadian Press
Not long ago, measles cases were far and few in between.
There were two cases in 2016 and just one in 2017. There were six cases confirmed in 2018.
The last outbreak of measles in B.C. was in 2014 when 343 cases were reported. Those cases were linked to an outbreak in a religious community that objects to vaccination.
Last week, Vancouver Coastal Health declared a measles outbreak in the city after as many as nine cases were reported in Vancouver.
Here’s how we got here and what you need to know.
January / February 2019: An individual who has been confirmed as having measles visited the emergency room at B.C. Children’s Hospital during the following times:
• Jan. 21, 2019 – 10 a.m. to 6:10 p.m.
• Jan. 23, 2019 – 4:45 p.m. to 11:10 p.m.
• Jan. 24, 2019 – 8:13 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.
• Feb. 1, 2019 – 2:05 p.m. to 6:55 p.m.
If you also visited on those days during those times, contact your health care provider.
Jan. 25, 2019: Washington state declared a state of emergency due to the measles outbreak. As of Feb. 17, a total of 62 cases were confirmed, but there was no evidence the cases in Washington are linked to those in B.C.
Feb. 9, 2019: The first B.C. case of measles leading up to the current outbreak was confirmed. By the time this case was confirmed, it was past the point of being infectious.
Feb. 13, 2019: VCH announced a second case of measles was confirmed in the city; there are no indications it is linked to the first case. The patient was a school-aged child who was infected locally, not while travelling abroad.
Feb. 14, 2019: An online petition calling on the province to make vaccinations mandatory in B.C. schools has picked up traction. Just one day after the second case of measles was announced, the petition had already garnered more than 1,800 signatures. Another five days later, the petition now has nearly 27,000 signatures.
Feb. 15, 2019: Health officials confirmed there were several cases of measles at three French-language schools in Vancouver: École Jules‐Verne, École Anne‐Hébert and École Rose-Des-Vents. The cases are occurring in staff, students and family members linked to the schools.
More to come.
What’s the deal with measles and what should I know?
Measles is highly infectious. Highly. It can be spread through coughing, sneezing, breathing the same air as an infected person, sharing food or drinks, sharing a cigarette and yes, even through kissing a person with measles.
The measles virus can survive for several hours in small droplets in the air.
Most people will recover but those with a weak immune system or infants could experience serious complications. Those could include encephalitis (an infection and swelling of the brain), meningitis, pneumonia, deafness and infection of the liver.
Measles in B.C. is usually rare and linked to cases of unvaccinated residents returning from overseas travel.
How do I know if I have measles?
The incubation period is about 10 days and the symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash that starts on the body and spreads to the limbs. The rash lasts at least three days. You may also have small white spots inside your mouth.
The symptoms can begin as early as a week after being infected.
Some people may have measles, be infectious and not even know it. Those who are infected can spread the virus anywhere from four days before to four days after a rash appears.
How do I protect against measles? How do I know whether I’ve been vaccinated?
Health officials recommend two doses of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine to be fully protected against measles. The first immunization is usually received at the age of one, while the second usually comes before starting kindergarten.
If you’re unsure if you’ve been vaccinated, the first stop is to check your health records.
Born in or after 1994 here in B.C.? You’re likely to be immune because those born in or after 1994 here in B.C. will have had two doses of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, the first dose when they turn a year old and a second before starting kindergarten, as part of routine vaccinations.
Born between 1970 and 1994? Grew up outside of B.C.? You may have only received one dose of the MMR vaccine. You’ll need a second dose to be protected.
Born before 1970? Or you’ve already had measles in the past? You’re likely to be immune.
Can’t remember if you’ve had one or two doses of the vaccine? The Canadian Centre for Disease Control says adults who do not have evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of MMR. It’s entirely safe to get the vaccine again.
I’m not vaccinated and I’ve been exposed to measles. What now? How do I treat it?
If you’ve been exposed to measles and you’re not vaccinated, you’ll need to get a dose of the MMR vaccine within 72 hours of exposure to prevent the illness.
But wait – don’t go to the emergency room or a doctor’s office without calling first. You’ll be highly contagious and the last thing you want is to spread it even further. Calling ahead will allow doctors make arrangements for your arrival and to ensure you’re isolated from other vulnerable patients.
–with files from Tiffany Crawford, Postmedia