Island Health is reminding people to check whether or not they are up-to-date on their immunization schedule after a new measles case was reported on southern Vancouver Island.

According to Island Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Dee Hoyano, there is very low risk of transmission of the infection from this case, and there are no high risk public exposures on the island.

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The BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) is working with King County Public Health in Washington State to share relevant information about this particular case, as the individual was travelling during the infectious period when they contracted the illness.

“Contact tracing on Vancouver Island was limited to one medical clinic and all of the individuals have been contacted,” says Island Health.

“Those who are not fully immunized were offered a prophylaxis vaccine that, if taken within six days of exposure, provides protection against measles.”

There have now been a total of eight lab-confirmed cases of measles on Vancouver Island this year.

In March, the provincial government announced a catch-up immunization program to help families ensure that their children are protected from measles. The program runs from April through June of this year.

Symptoms and what to do

If you’ve been exposed to measles, monitor your health for the next 21 days for symptoms of the disease including fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, diarrhea and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest.

Those who have never contracted measles or have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine are at highest risk of measles, and are encouraged to get immunized as soon as possible.

People born after 1970 and have never had the measles infection, or who did not have two doses of vaccine, are at highest risk of measles, and Island Health encourages them to get fully immunized.

Island Health also states that those who believe they now have measles should contact their local health care provider before arriving at the facility so that health care practitioners may take precautions to minimize the risk of transmission.

Contact the following lines for information about measles and treatment:

  • South Island: 250-544-7676 ext. 27545
  • Nanaimo/Ladysmith/Gabriola: 250-755-3388
  • Courtenay/Comox Valley: 250-331-8599
  • Campbell River and area: 250-850-2120
  • Mt. Waddington/Port Hardy: 250-902-6079

Immunization

Free vaccinations are available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists. All Health Units in Island Health are also currently offering additional booked school age immunization appointments scheduled during regular clinic hours, after hours and Saturdays.

Since February, Island Health has administered over 7,300 measles vaccinations which is more than double the previous years. In addition, the health authority is offering to catch up all vaccines that the patient is behind on at the appointment.

Prior to this recent increase, BC Centre for Disease Control statistics for 2012 and 2018 have shown that the immunization rate in 7-year-old children on Vancouver Island has decreased by 12-13% on Vancouver Island, and by 7% in B.C. within a 6 year span.

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