With recent measles outbreaks appearing in Vancouver and Washington State, the Ministry of Health has launched a catch-up immunization program to help families ensure that their children are protected from measles.

Government health authorities will administer the program – which will be available in schools for all children in kindergarten through to grade 12 – in public-health units, community health centres, and mobile community clinics where necessary.

The Ministry of Health hopes that offering vaccinations in schools and public health centres will make it easier and stress-free for parents to get their children protected from measles.

The program will run from April through June of this year.

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“With outbreaks of measles occurring globally and here in B.C., we know we will see threats of further outbreaks and can be doing more to raise immunization rates,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health in a release.

“Our goal is to immunize as many people as possible before the end of the school year. The purpose, ultimately, is to reach an immunization rate of 95% as recommended.”

In order for everyone to be vaccinated, the province has purchased $3 million in the vaccine, roughly the equivalent of a regular one year supply.

Child immunization records will become mandatory

The program is the first step in preparing families for the mandatory reporting of a child’s vaccination status, which is planned for Fall 2019.

Parents can check their child’s records through their primary care provider or through a public-health unit. Parents can also give their child’s vaccination record to their local public-health unit to have it added to the provincial registry.

If a child’s current record is already on file with a local health unit, parents do not need to provide one again.

If you or a family member do not have a record or proof of immunity, the person is considered unimmunized and unprotected – it is safe to repeat immunizations.

“Safeguarding the health and well-being of children, staff and teachers who come into our classrooms and their family members at home is one of our highest priorities,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education.

“The K-12 education system plays a critical role in raising awareness of the importance of childhood vaccines and increasing immunization rates. We are continuing to work across government, and with our education and health community partners, to help curb preventable outbreaks and increase student safety.”