BC looks to implement mandatory measles registration for schools

BC looks to implement mandatory measles registration for schools

File photo

File photo

As the measles outbreak in B.C. continues, the province’s health minister says they are looking to implement mandatory measles immunization reporting for schools.

Adrian Dix said in question period Tuesday that after the 2014 outbreak in school communities in the Frazer Valley, where there were 342 cases of the disease, the provincial officer of health at the time Dr. Perry Kendall recommended such a system for both public and private schools

The current Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry agrees and Dix says they are looking to implement it by September.

“Being immunized is not just important for your child, it’s important for children, who for medical reasons, cannot be immunized,” said Dix.

“It is our public responsibility to do so. And I want to encourage everyone to do so.”

The minister says the province is also exercising its authority to exclude students from school due to their immunization status. Thirty to 40 students and adults have recently temporarily removed from particular schools where the outbreak is taking place.

Following questions from the B.C. Liberal health critic about further efforts, Dix mentioned Ontario’s stringent system where the rate of immunization is 91 per cent.

He went on to say Newfoundland, that has no restrictions, has a higher rate of 96 per cent.

“The levels of immunization in British Columbia are not sufficient,” he stressed.

According to Vancouver Island Health Authority for the South Island, the average MMR compliance is 89 per cent. Central Island’s average compliance rate is 85 per cent and for the North Island, it’s 88 per cent.

There are 13 cases from the outbreak concentrated in Metro Vancouver. There are also 62 confirmed cases of the measles just south of the border, in Washington state.

Just this weekend, a warning was issued to the public of possible exposure to measles, after an airline passenger with the infectious disease travelled from Vancouver to Edmonton.

Additional exposure warnings have been issued in Vancouver, one at a Toys ‘R’ Us.

Health authorities are pleading with the public to get vaccinated. More information on the Measles Vaccine can be found here.

Those born before 1994 are asked to check with their family doctor or vaccine records because a second dose was not on the vaccine schedule before then.

READ MORE: Amid measles outbreak, doctors say likely only a matter of time before virus hits Vancouver Island

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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