School officials on Vancouver Island and Island Health are reminding parents and students to check their vaccination records following the measles outbreak in the Vancouver area.
Schools have been sending out notices to parents about the outbreak and how vaccination can protect students from measles. All school-age children and adults born in 1970 or later should have two doses of the MMR vaccine for full protection, according to Island Health. Most people born before 1970 are immune to measles because of past exposure to the disease. Adults who are unsure of their vaccination history are also eligible for MMR vaccine.
The vaccination is available from physicians, pharmacists (for adults and children over five years) and public health units (for children) but people should call ahead to ensure the MMR vaccine is available.
Island Health has informed school districts that any case of measles diagnosed by a physician or a hospital should be reported to Island Health Communicable Disease. Island Health Communicable Disease will investigate and determine if a case requires further public health follow up, including contacting a case’s school or workplace if appropriate.
Island Health also said any student or staff who becomes unwell at school, particularly if they develop fever and a red rash, should be sent home as soon as possible and seek medical care if exhibiting measles symptoms. . If an ill child or adult with fever and a rash goes to hospital/clinic, they should ask for a mask before entering the facility.
When there is a confirmed case of measles in the school setting, where exposure at the school was likely, the following measures usually occur:
- Cases are excluded from school until they are no longer infectious (usually 4 days to a
- People at the school who may have been exposed will be informed and asked to provide
proof of protection against measles (e.g. a documented history of MMR immunization for
people born in 1970 or later). People born before 1970 are considered protected because
of past exposure/disease.
- Students and staff who do not have proof of protection will be excluded from school for
up to three weeks after a likely exposure to measles. This is to prevent further exposure in
the school setting, given that measles is highly contagious and people can transmit the
disease even before symptoms occur.
- Immunization with MMR will be offered to students who have not had 2 doses, to boost
their protection and to staff as needed base on age.
The British Columbia government is considering mandatory vaccination registration after the outbreak of measles in the province.
Health Minister Adrian Dix is promising action soon because of the nine cases of measles in Vancouver that started when an unvaccinated child contracted the disease on a family trip to Vietnam.
The minister says he wants everyone to be protected and while the government has a universal system for vaccinations, parents still need to ensure their children are protected.
Dix says there are some people who are expressing opposition to immunization, while others can’t be immunized for medical reasons and some simply fall through the cracks.
About three dozen students and staff at two French-language schools at the centre of a measles outbreak have been ordered to stay home because they haven’t provided proof of vaccination.
Dix says Ontario has a registration system for vaccinations, making it more difficult to miss vaccinations and he wants B.C. to have a similar model.
The U.S. is also experiencing travel-related outbreaks, with 127 cases of measles confirmed in 10 states between Jan. 1 and Feb. 14, with Washington and New York states particularly hard hit by the disease, says a report by the Centers for Disease Control.