Health minister ignores Burnaby mom, rules out mandatory vaccinations

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"Action is coming", said Dix.

British Columbia has had measles outbreaks before including 343 reported cases in 2014 and 87 cases in 2010.

Despite no new confirmed cases in the last few days, the recent measles outbreak in Vancouver is sparking debate on if vaccinations should be mandatory in this province. The other case is unrelated. Measles infects more than 90 percent of people who are exposed and susceptible, and even with the best of care, measles can cause swelling of the brain (encephalitis) and death. It can also be fatal.

"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.

Measles causes fever, rash, cold-like symptoms and red, inflamed eyes that can be sensitive to light. The virus lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person, and can survive for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.

Public Health recommends that persons traveling to any destination ensure they are vaccinated for measles (given in combination with the mumps and rubella vaccines) at least four to six weeks before departing.

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However, some people - infants, those with certain underlying health conditions and patients undergoing chemotherapy - can not be vaccinated and must rely on high vaccination levels within their community in order to be protected from infection by so-called "herd immunity".

"You have to go through a registration system", Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.

In Ontario, children who attend primary or secondary school must be immunized against several diseases, including measles, unless they have an exemption for medical reasons or due to conscience or religious belief. Adults born after 1957 who have no history of vaccination are recommended to receive one dose of MMR. Unless an exemption is claimed, a child is required to be vaccinated against or show proof of acquired immunity for almost a dozen diseases - including polio, whooping cough and mumps - before they can attend school or a child care center.

A petition calling for mandatory measles vaccinations for children attending public school in B.C. had nearly 35,000 signatures on Wednesday evening. This and other vaccinations are credited with eradicating some diseases world-wide and saving millions of lives.

The mother of two young kids, with a third on the way, said if parents choose not to have their children vaccinated, they can home-school or possibly enroll them in a private school.

As we can determine from the VCH data, many BC residents remain unvaccinated.

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