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)

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The construction zone remains for now at Clover Point, but plans for a new pedestrian zone and partially closed traffic loop were approved by Victoria councillors on Thursday. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria council compromises with partial closure of Clover Point

Option preserves parking 14 spots facing ocean, creates more pedestrian space

(Black Press Media file photo)
Trees Cannabis to reignite downtown Victoria location as licensed store

The dispensary will reopen its 230 Cook St. location on Saturday

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read