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Category "Measles"

22Feb

B.C. pharmacists push immunization after Vancouver measles outbreak

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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.


READ MORE: 

Measles in B.C.: How we got here and what you need to know

Burnaby family on edge after high-risk baby exposed to measles at children’s hospital


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

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18Feb

Measles in BC: Timeline and what you need to know

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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.



Vancouver Coastal Health has declared a measles outbreak in Vancouver.

Sean Gallup /

Getty Images

Timeline

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.



A symptom of measles includes a rash that starts on the torso and spreads to the limbs.

PROVINCE

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

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14Feb

Petition calls for mandatory vaccinations in B.C. schools

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An online petition is calling on the provincial government to make vaccinations mandatory in B.C. schools following a second reported case of measles in Vancouver, and an outbreak of that disease south of the border.

The petition, which as of Thursday afternoon had more than 1,800 signatures, asks Premier John Horgan to amend B.C.’s current enrolment policy to include mandatory vaccines except with medical exemption.

It was launched by Maple Ridge mom Katie Clunn, who says one concern people have is that they don’t want to give up their right to choose what is best for their family.


An online petition is calling on the B.C. government to make vaccines mandatory for B.C. school children.

Sean Gallup /

Getty Images

She says mandatory vaccines won’t force anyone to vaccinate because parents would have the choice to home school their children. She adds the move would protect the most vulnerable children, including those with compromised immune systems and babies who have not yet been vaccinated.

Clunn, who is pregnant with her third child, says she launched the petition not just out of concern for her own children but also on behalf of all the vulnerable children and adults with health concerns.

“If your child is going through chemo you should know how many kids haven’t been vaccinated,” she said Thursday. “Four year olds with leukaemia shouldn’t be scared to visit their friends at school.”


Katie Clunn, a Maple Ridge mother, has started a petition to ask the government to make vaccines mandatory in schools.

She notes that schools protect kids with allergies, for example, by banning peanuts, something Clunn says she wholeheartedly supports, but don’t protect kids who are at risk of developing a preventable disease like measles.

She hopes the government will take note of the deadly outbreak in Europe and the state of emergency in Washington and reconsider making vaccines mandatory at schools.

Postmedia requested an interview with the chief medical health officer; however, a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Health said Dr. Bonnie Henry was unavailable Thursday.

“You are always entitled to choice, but you are not exempt from the consequences of your choices. We cannot send unvaccinated (children) to school for the safety of those who can’t be vaccinated, as well as for the safety of those who won’t vaccinate,” said Clunn.

What do you think? Should parents have to show proof of vaccines before school enrolment?

On Wednesday, Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed a second case of measles in Vancouver in a week. The news comes as there is an outbreak of measles in Washington State, where 54 cases of the disease have been confirmed. Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak.

At least eight people have died in Ukraine, where 53,000 cases have been reported. The skyrocketing measles rates there are believed to be due to vaccine refusal as well as a temporary breakdown in vaccine orders by the government.

In Vancouver, health officials said the latest case was transmitted locally, and confirmed that the person is a school-age child.

The first case, acquired abroad, was confirmed on Saturday.

Last year, six cases were confirmed across B.C., up from a single case in 2017 and two cases in 2016, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

B.C. last experienced a measles outbreak in 2014, when 343 cases were reported, most of them linked to an outbreak in a religious community that objects to vaccination.

The World Health Organization named “vaccine hesitancy” one of its top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Measles saw a 30 per cent increase in cases globally between 2016 and 2017, and a resurgence in some countries that were close to eliminating it, according to the organization.

Ontario and New Brunswick have mandatory immunizations with exceptions and proof must be shown at the time of school enrolment.

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With files from Nick Eagland and The Associated Press


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13Feb

Second case of measles reported in the Vancouver area

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Students at Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey are being told to stay away from class if their measles immunization is not up to date.


Sean Gallup / Getty Images

A second case of measles has been confirmed in the Vancouver area.

It was transmitted locally, meaning the patient was not infected while travelling abroad, Dr. Althea Hayden of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said at a news conference on Wednesday. She would not give details about the patient but said they are a school-age minor.

The other case, acquired abroad, was confirmed on Saturday but past the point of being infectious. Hayden said there is no clear link between the two cases. Her health authority’s region includes Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore and the Sunshine Coast.

“We are working very hard to find out how measles may have been introduced into our community,” she said. “We would be much less concerned about it if we knew exactly where it came from.”

The health authority last released a public measles alert in September, after an infected person attended the Skookum Festival.

Spokespeople at the Fraser, Interior, Island and Northern health authorities said Wednesday that they had not heard of any suspected or confirmed cases of the disease in their regions.

In the State of Washington, a surge in measles cases prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency on Jan. 25. As of Wednesday, 54 cases had been confirmed. Health officials are urging residents to get immunized. Four more cases have been confirmed in Oregon.

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to Vancouver Coastal Health. Complications can include inflammation of the brain, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and even death.

Infection does not require close contact and measles can survive in close areas, such as a bathroom, for up to two hours after an infected person has left. It causes fever, red eyes, coughing, a runny nose and a rash. Most people recover within a week or two.

Measles is easily prevented through vaccination, which Vancouver Coastal Health recommends. 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.

The World Health Organization named “vaccine hesitancy” one of its top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Measles saw a 30 per cent increase in cases globally between 2016 and 2017, and a resurgence in some countries that were close to eliminating it, according to the organization.

“The reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines – threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases,” according to the WHO. “Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease – it currently prevents 2-3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.”

In Canada, immunizations are not mandatory. But Ontario and New Brunswick require proof of immunization for children and adolescents to attend school, according to Immunize Canada.

In the U.S., all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws that require children entering childcare or public schools to have certain vaccinations. All state laws provide medical exemptions, 17 states allow religious or medical exemptions only, and five states expressly exclude philosophical exemptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.

Across Canada, only a single new case of laboratory-confirmed measles was reported between Dec. 30, 2018, and Jan. 26, 2019, according to Health Canada’s most recent measles and rubella monitoring reports.

The agency said there have been large measles outbreaks reported across Europe which have affected many countries.

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9Feb

Measles case confirmed in Vancouver, not linked to Washington outbreak

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Reported cases of measles have spiked 30 per cent worldwide since 2016.


Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Health authorities have confirmed a case of measles in Vancouver.

The patient, a Vancouver resident, was diagnosed on Thursday as having the virus, but the period during which it is considered infectious has since passed, said Shaf Hussain, a spokesman for Vancouver Coastal Health. The patient is receiving care.

The health authority last released a measles alert in September, when a person who was infected attended the Skookum Festival.

The latest case is not believed to be linked to an outbreak of measles in the state of Washington, Hussain said. A surge in measles cases prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency Jan. 25. As of Saturday, 54 cases had been confirmed. Health officials are urging residents to get immunized. Four more cases have been confirmed in Oregon.

Measles is highly infectious and spreads through air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Vancouver Coastal Health. Complications can include inflammation of the brain, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and death.

Infection does not require close contact and measles can survive in close areas, such as a bathroom, for up to two hours after an infected person has left. It causes fever, red eyes, cough, runny nose and a rash. Most people recover within a week or two.

Vancouver Coastal Health 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.

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.

Across Canada, only a single new case of laboratory-confirmed measles was reported between Dec. 30, 2018, and Jan. 26, 2019, according to Health Canada’s most recent measles and rubella monitoring reports.

The agency said there have been large measles outbreaks reported across Europe which have affected many countries.

[email protected]

twitter.com/nickeagland




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