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

Sailings filling up on Northern Sea Wolf

There is a strong demand for the service

New ownership group presents Mount Timothy Resort plans

‘More activity and more people on the hill means more fun’

Thunderstorms in forecast for much of Cariboo Chilcotin

Special weather statements, concerns of flash flooding, for southern B.C. regions

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Nisga’a Nation tourism industry hits the road

First pilot tour to the Nass Valley is set for this summer with Indigenous Tourism BC

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Most Read