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

Victoria City Council approves inclusionary housing policy

After years of back and forth, the policy will be ratified in two weeks

Filipino Heritage Month event takes over Centennial Square

Dancing, music and food highlight Mabuhay Day celebration in Victoria

West Shore residents report finding anti-SOGI 123 flyers in mailboxes

SD62 trustee Ravi Parmar says the flyers are ‘garbage’

Saanich woman runs marathons to make dreams come true

Hempler gutted her way through 122 kms with minimal breaks, to support Help Fill a Dream Foundation

Victoria Weekender: What’s happening this weekend, June 15-16

Car Free YYJ, a barber battle and an Outdoor Discovery Day

Homalco tour gives glimpse into area’s ‘People, Land, Water’

First Nation business mixes cultural components with wildlife excursions

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read