(File photo)

Following an outbreak of measles in Vancouver, Washington State, and on Vancouver Island this year, the provincial Ministry of Health announced a “catch-up immunization program” on March 20th.

Since this program was implemented on April 1st, over 550,000 letters have been sent to parents of school-aged children, and 3,807 doses of measles-containing vaccines were administered to K-12th grade students.

See also: Province announces measles immunization catch-up program in BC schools

This number reflects a 106% increase in the number of vaccines administered compared to the same time frame last year.

As of May 6th, Vancouver Island has reported 8 lab-confirmed cases of measles, while the rest of BC reported a combined total of 21 cases.

Child immunization records will become mandatory

At the beginning of the next school year in Autumn of 2019, parents will be required to give schools a mandatory vaccination status report on their children.

Parents can check their child’s immunization 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 immunization registry.

If a child’s current immunization 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 of immunization, or proof of immunity to a disease, the person is considered unimmunized and unprotected and must be immunized or re-immunized. 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 in March.

“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.”

With files from Adam Chan

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