Measles outbreak in Philippines prompts Public Health to issue warning

3:34pm
 
Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Silvina Mema Image Credit Interior Health

3:34pm Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Silvina Mema Image Credit Interior Health

Dr. Hasselback said local public health units are the best place for young children to get immunized against the disease, while pharmacies are the preferred option for everybody else.

The recent outbreak prompted a Lower Mainland mom to resurrect her online petition calling on the B.C. government to make vaccinations mandatory for public school enrollment, with exceptions for those who can not receive vaccinations for medical reasons. It is preventable with a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine given in two doses.

Most of the fatalities had no immunization for measles.

The DOH said it recorded 11,459 confirmed cases of measles, with 189 fatalities from January 1 to February 20 this year. Health experts are stating that it is possible to confine the virus from spreading, however, in order to do so hospitals and health clinics will need to encourage every patient they see to get immediately vaccinated.

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Bilodeau says that he now knows that there is no link between getting vaccinated and autism.

Dr. Silvina Mema, Interior Health's medical health officer, said awareness of potential measles exposure cases is heightened due to the outbreaks in the Vancouver area and in southern Washington state. Unless an exemption is claimed, a child is required to be vaccinated against or show proof of acquired immunity for almost a dozen diseases - including polio, whooping cough and mumps - before they can attend school or a child care center. "While measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, measles is still common in many parts of the world including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa".

Measles is spread through airborne droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes.

According to the health authority, the overall measles immunization rate for children starting kindergarten in Vancouver for the 2017/2018 school year, the last year the records are available, was 82 per cent. Akins pointed out that this number is a minimum.

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Measles is a serious illness: Complications include blindness, ear infections that can lead to deafness, pneumonia and encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

He said vaccination rates on Vancouver Island for the measles are well over 90 per cent.

Instead, mandatory registration of vaccination status when children start school is under "active consideration", Dix said, but has made no commitment as to when or how such a measure might be implemented.

California removed personal belief vaccine exemptions for children in both public and private schools in 2015 after a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened 147 people and spread across the US and into Canada.

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