Health Minister Adrian Dix announces the province’s commitment to building a new ICU facility at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for a cost of $33.85 million on Wednesday, Nov. 21. (NICHOLAS PESCOD/NEWS BULLETIN)

B.C. looking into vaccination registry due to measles outbreak, minister says

Parents would have to register whether their child is or is not immunized

The B.C. government is considering a mandatory vaccination registration program similar to that in Ontario in the wake of an outbreak of measles in Vancouver, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.

Such a system would be aimed at boosting the proportion of residents in the province who are vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, he said.

“While there are some people who are expressing opposition to immunization, and others who can’t be immunized for medical reasons, some people simply fall through the cracks of the system,” Dix told reporters. “We want to make it harder for that to happen. So action is coming.”

Dix stopped short of saying a plan is in place or when it might be announced, but he noted that some of the groundwork has already been done: the idea of a vaccination records registry had been contemplated after an outbreak of 343 cases of measles in B.C.’s Fraser Valley region in 2014.

In the meantime, said Dix, “the message is for parents to immunize (their children).”

There have been nine confirmed cases of measles in Vancouver in recent weeks, including eight at two French-language schools in Vancouver, a cluster that began after an unvaccinated B.C. child contracted the disease during a family trip to Vietnam. The other case is unrelated.

READ MORE: B.C. mom’s petition to make measles vaccines mandatory at 35,000 names

Measles is nothing to sneeze at: complications include blindness, ear infections that can lead to deafness, pneumonia and encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. The disease can also be fatal. In 2017, there were 110,000 measles deaths, most among children under age five, the World Health Organization says.

Infection with the virus begins with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a blotchy rash that spreads from the face and neck to the rest of the body. The virus is spread through air-borne droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Public health officials say the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection.

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

Dix said Ontario’s system makes it more difficult for those eligible for vaccination to miss getting their shots — and he wants to see B.C. with a similar model.

In Ontario, vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella is required by law for all children attending school, although parents can seek an exemption on religious or conscientious grounds. The Immunization of School Pupils Act requires parents or guardians to provide proof of vaccination before their child can attend school.

Earlier this week, 33 children and staff at the two measles-affected Vancouver schools were ordered to stay home until at least March 7 because they either hadn’t been vaccinated or weren’t able to provide proof of immunization.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Firefighter spring training comes to Lake Country

From LNG to breaking down doors, firefighters get training from industry pros

Okanagan FC kicks off regular season Saturday night

OKFC starts their inaugural season of the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) in Penticton

Lake Country joins celebration of local government professionals

The district joined communities across the province by planting a new tree

Kootnekoff: Nervous about random drug testing?

Are you an employer with workers performing safety sensitive activities, but without… Continue reading

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada forecasts thunder, cloud and rain for one more day

Firefighter spring training comes to Lake Country

From LNG to breaking down doors, firefighters get training from industry pros

More than just a playground: Penticton’s Busy Beans Play Café to help parents and children

Owners Kim Wade and Tracey Wiseman want to use their expertise to help struggling families

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Highway 1 closed east of Revelstoke

Highway 1 is closed east of Revelstoke near Canyon Hot Springs due… Continue reading

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Okanagan woman celebrates 101 years young on the back of a Harley Davidson

Last Saturday Violet Madeline celebrated 101 years. A member of the Lower… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read