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Measles vaccination rates decreasing for children in Sudbury

By: Jonathan Migneault - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 29, 2014 - 11:03 AM |
A measles case the Sudbury and District Health Unit confirmed over the weekend was Sudbury's first in 17 years. File photo.

A measles case the Sudbury and District Health Unit confirmed over the weekend was Sudbury's first in 17 years. File photo.

A confirmed measles case in a Sudbury child over the weekend marked the disease's first appearance in Sudbury in 17 years.

“The vaccination program initiated after 1970 has basically eliminated measles from Canada up until this point,” said Lisa Chell, manager of the Sudbury and District Health Unit's infections disease program.

Chell said two factors have contributed to diseases like measles making a resurgence in Canada.


The first, she said, is the growth of international travel. Many countries have not implemented measles vaccination programs, and a person without the vaccine could be at risk of contracting the disease if they come into contact with a person who has carried the virus overseas.

The second reason measles has made a resurgence is that some people have chosen not to have their children vaccinated for the disease.

People born before 1970 are presumed to be immune to measles due to natural exposure to the virus, but anyone born later needs a vaccine to prevent infection.

While the health unit does not have statistics on general measles immunization rates in Sudbury, it does track the vaccine coverage rate for school-age children.

During the 2012-2013 school year, 96 per cent of seven-year-olds in Sudbury had the measles vaccine, and 98 per cent of 17-year-olds were vaccinated.

Chell said immunization rates were higher in previous years.

Under the Immunization School Pupils Act students can be suspended from classes if they have not had all their vaccines. Chell said the act has been enforced in Sudbury in the past.

Measles is highly infectious, and can be fatal, Chell said.

Complications from measles can lead to ear infections and pneumonia. In severe cases measles can lead to inflammation of the brain and death.

Because measles is a virus it cannot be treated with antibiotics. Instead, health care workers treat the symptoms.

If you are unsure of your vaccination status or that of your children, please discuss this with your health care provider. For more information about measles or immunization, you can also visit www.sdhu.com or call the Sudbury and District Health Unit at 705-522-9200. The health unit will maintain extended after hours services to respond to the measles incident.
Jonathan Migneault

Jonathan Migneault

Staff Writer

@jmigneault

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