Amid measles outbreak, Islanders debate mandatory vaccinations

Amid measles outbreak, Islanders debate mandatory vaccinations

WATCH: Concern is growing across the province after a recent measles outbreak in Vancouver. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

Despite no new confirmed cases in the last few days, the recent measles outbreak in Vancouver is sparking debate on if vaccinations should be mandatory in this province.

“I’m pro-vaccination,” said one parent CHEK News spoke with in Victoria.

“It should be the parents choice,” explained another.

Vaccinations are sparking debate among communities, after nine confirmed cases of measles in Vancouver and a public state of emergency in Washington State.

With numbers on the rise, many are urging the province to implement a vaccination registration system in schools.

“If you’ve made the choice to not vaccinate your children, then you should give parents the choice to not let their children near kids who have the potential to infect them or get sick,” said parent Naomi Lee.

A new study released Thursday is showing that the majority of Canadians support mandatory vaccinations for children entering school.

The Angus Reid survey found that 70 per cent of respondents believe vaccinations against common deadly diseases should be mandatory for school-aged kids.

Eighty-three per cent say they would vaccinate their children without hesitation, while a quarter of Canadians say they are concerned about vaccination side-effects.

However, B.C.’s public health officer says forcing people to vaccinate isn’t the answer.

“I’m not in favour of mandatory immunization, of forcing people to do something against their will,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C’s Provincial Health Officer. “There have been studies that have shown that it alienates more people and it makes people less willing to be immunized when they feel they’re being forced to do it.”

For now, the province says an immunization registration program in schools is “under consideration” but mandatory vaccinations are unlikely.

Thirty-six students and staff at two French-language schools at the centre of a measles outbreak in Vancouver have been ordered to stay home because they either can’t provide proof of vaccination or are refusing to vaccinate.

While there have been no reported cases on Vancouver Island, health authorities expect it’s only a matter of time until the highly-contagious disease makes its way to the Island.

In response to a high volume of calls from people inquiring about their vaccination status, Island Health has opened up a measles information line for the South Island at 250-544-7676 ext. 2754

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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