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Measles information for British Columbians

There have been a number of confirmed cases of measles in British Columbia. Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as respiratory secretions.
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Find answers to common questions about measles and vaccination on HealthLink BC.

Updated on May 6   ̶  Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 29 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents.

There are no alerts to the general public at this time about potential measles exposures within BC.

Read the latest epidemiological summary (from May 3).

Information on Measles Vaccine 

Updated on February 20   ̶  There is no change to the routine BC Childhood Immunization Schedule for Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine.

MMR is routinely given as part of the BC Childhood Immunization Schedule at 12 months of age and at school entry at 4 to 6 years of age.

Infants under 12 months of age

MMR vaccine is not recommended for infants under 12 months of age. Infants who are less than 12 months of age may not respond to the measles component of the vaccine due to the presence of antibodies received from their mother during pregnancy. MMR vaccine is only recommended for infants 6 – 11 months of age if traveling overseas to areas with ongoing measles outbreaks. Such infants would still require 2 doses of MMR vaccine after 12 months of age. To receive vaccines related to travel, contact a travel health clinic.

Children under 4 years of age who have received 1 dose of MMR vaccine

The 2nd dose of MMR vaccine is given at 4 – 6 years of age and there is no recommendation to receive the 2nd dose earlier (i.e., before 4 years of age).

Adults

For all individuals born after January 1, 1970, two doses of measles-containing vaccine (given as MMR in Canada) are recommended. Individuals born before 1970 are generally assumed to have acquired immunity to measles from natural infection, and therefore MMR vaccine is not recommended for these individuals. However, health care workers born between 1957 and 1969 are recommended to have two doses of MMR vaccine. 

Tips for locating immunization records: Adults

Without a record of immunization (or proof of immunity to a disease), a person is considered unimmunized and unprotected and should generally be vaccinated (or revaccinated) to ensure protection. It is safe to repeat vaccines. 

For general immunization information call 8-1-1 and speak to a nurse.

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Updated on February 15 at 6 p.m.  ̶  In 2019, nine cases of confirmed measles have been reported to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). Seven confirmed cases were reported in February in association with a cluster of related school-based outbreaks in Vancouver, linked to importation of measles from outside of North America. 

Two unrelated adult cases were reported through separate importations in January, both returning travellers from the Philippines. All cases have been among residents of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. 

Washington State declared a state of emergency related to the measles outbreak unfolding in Clark County. The BCCDC continues to monitor the outbreak in Washington State. To date, no cases have been reported in BC related to the Washington state outbreak.

Measles is preventable with vaccine

The BCCDC advises parents to ensure their child's vaccination records are up-to-date.  It is especially important to ensure that immunizations are up to date prior to travel.

Measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine from your local health unit, family doctor and many pharmacists. This will help to protect you and your family from vaccine preventable diseases.  

Maintaining high levels of population protection against diseases like measles, rubella and chickenpox is important for individual protection and also helps to protect those who cannot be immunized because of medical contraindications such as a weakened immune system. To find a public health unit anywhere in the province, see the site finder on ImmunizeBC.ca

Individuals most at risk from measles are those who are completely unvaccinated against the disease including babies under one year of age. Individuals born after 1970 should have received two doses of a measles vaccine (often given as combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR) to be protected. 

Symptoms of measles include:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Rash that starts centrally including on the face, spreads to the limbs and lasts at least three days
Measles can be a serious infection and is very infectious to others. If you become ill with any of the above symptoms and suspect you may have measles, call your doctor and inform them that you may have been exposed to measles, so that s/he will arrange to see you in a manner that avoids infecting others in the waiting room.  

Measles is a reportable disease, and cases are notified by BC public health authorities to the BC Centre for Disease Control as soon as these are identified. In addition, all laboratory confirmation of measles is conducted the BCCDC Public Health Laboratory, which facilities timely knowledge of new cases. 

A single case of measles results in a cascade of public health activity to ensure that transmission from the case is minimized. Each case is carefully assessed by public health authorities for potential transmission to others. Exposed non-immune individuals are offered preventive measures including vaccine. 

Those who are concerned about their potential measles exposure but have no symptoms can call 8-1-1 and speak to a nurse.

Updated on April 12   ̶  Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 26 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents. Six cases of measles with possible public exposures in the South Island were reported by Island Health on April 10April 6April 4 and March 29. A case of measles with possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland was reported April 2. Interior Health has issued two bulletins about measles with possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 22 and March 9

Read the latest epidemiological summary (from April 12).

Updated on April 4   ̶  Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 23 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents. Three cases of measles with possible public exposures in the South Island were reported by Island Health on April 4 and March 29. A case of measles with possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland was reported April 2. Interior Health has issued two bulletins about measles with possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 22 and March 9

Read the latest epidemiological summary (from April 3).

Updated on April 2: Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 22 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents. A case of measles with possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland was reported April 2. Two cases of measles were reported by Island Health on March 29. Interior Health has issued two bulletins about measles with possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 22 and March 9.

Updated on March 29: Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 21 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents. Two cases of measles were reported by Island Health on March 29. Interior Health has issued two bulletins about measles with possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 22 and March 9. For information about possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.‎

Updated on March 22 - Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 20 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents. Read the latest epidemiological summary. Interior Health has issued two bulletins about measles with possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House on March 22 and March 9. For information about possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.

Updated on March 19 - Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 19 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents. Read the latest epidemiological summary. For information about possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland, visit Vancouver Coastal Health; and for a list of possible public exposures in the area of 100 Mile House, visit Interior Health

Updated on March 12   ̶  Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 18 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents and one case in an individual who travelled through Vancouver in transit to the Northwest Territories. For information about possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland, visit Vancouver Coastal Health. On March 9, Interior Health reported a single measles case that is not linked to the cases in the Lower Mainland.

Updated on March 7   ̶  Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 17 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents and one case in an individual who travelled through Vancouver in transit to the Northwest Territories. Read the epidemiological summary from March 7.

Updated on February 27  ̶  Two news cases of measles have been reported to Vancouver Coastal Health related to the school outbreak. Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 15 cases of measles among B.C. residents and one case in an individual who travelled through Vancouver in transit to the Northwest Territories. For information about possible public exposures and immunization locations, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.

Updated on February 24  ̶  Two additional measles cases have been reported. Both individuals acquired the illness while traveling abroad; the cases are unrelated to previous reports of measles in the Lower Mainland. An exposure alert has been issued by Vancouver Coastal Health for Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Richmond on February 11 and 12 and for various locations in Richmond between February 16 and February 18. For more information, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.

Updated on February 22  ̶  Two additional measles cases have been confirmed. An exposure alert has been issued by Vancouver Coastal Health for various locations in Vancouver, Richmond, Squamish and Whistler between February 15 and February 18. For more information, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.

Updated on February 21  ̶  In 2019, ten cases of confirmed measles have been reported to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). Eight cases were reported in February in association with a cluster of related school-based outbreaks in Vancouver, linked to importation of measles from outside of North America. Read the epidemiological summary here.

BC Centre for Disease Control; Health alert
 
SOURCE: Measles information for British Columbians ( )
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