After a total of 9 measles cases were recorded in Vancouver so far this year prompting the local health authority to declare an outbreak, Victorians have been wary of the disease spreading to the island.
In response, the Ministry is now conducting a campaign targeting all children ten years and younger as well as front line workers such as Police, Customs and Immigration Officers, Health Care Workers and Hospitality industry workers.
Measles is considered a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that can spread through sneezing, coughing and close personal contact.
Dix stopped short of saying a plan is in place or when it might be announced, but he noted that some of the groundwork has already been done: the idea of a vaccination records registry had been contemplated after an outbreak of 343 cases of measles in B.C.'s Fraser Valley region in 2014. Its complications include severe diarrhea, pneumonia, blindness, and even death, according to the DOH.
There were six confirmed cases of measles in Calgary in 2018. It can also be fatal.
Since the outbreak, VCH staff was able to confirm that 95.5 per cent of students at École Jules-Verne and 94 per cent at École Rose-Des-Vents had received at least one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. "You have to go through a registration system", Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.
"So I think what we want to stress is that right now is really a good time to make sure you are up to date with two doses of measles vaccine if you were born after 1970, because we are seeing these importations", she said.
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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.
Routine childhood vaccines are required to stay in school, but more and more parents are opting out for what they call personal or religious reasons.
"The most recent report in Ontario shows a vaccination rate for seven year olds at 91 per cent, and that's better than B.C.", said Dix.
"And if they're young infants, I just tell them to be very careful", said MacDougall.
"But when they bring it back to pockets of underimmunized groups, then we're going to see the potential for more people to be infected in Canada itself".
- With files from Dirk Meissner in Victoria.