B.C. issues bulletin for people travelling abroad to get vaccinated against measles

B.C. issues measles bulletin

Measles outbreaks internationally have health officials in British Columbia encouraging people to check their immunization records if they plan to travel abroad during spring break.

A joint bulletin issued today by the provincial government, the BC Centre for Disease Control and the provincial health officer says babies as young as six months should be vaccinated against measles before travelling to countries where the disease is spreading.

In B.C., the measles vaccine is given in two doses — first as the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at about 12 months, and then around the time school starts as the measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine.

The bulletin says children between the ages of 12 months and four years can also get their second dose before travelling outside the country to be protected against the extremely contagious virus.

It says kids aged four and older can be vaccinated by a pharmacist, and if it's their first dose, immunization is best at least two weeks before travel to give their body enough time to build immunity.

Vaccine appointments can be booked through local public health units, community health centres or nursing stations as well as some primary care providers, but it's recommended that people call first to check if the measles vaccine is available.

Adults can also be vaccinated by a pharmacist but may already have protection from childhood vaccination or from having had measles, but they should ensure they have received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine if they were born in 1970 or later.

Measles vaccines are typically not needed for those born before 1970 as most people in that age group have immunity to measles from a prior infection, before vaccination was widely available.

About a dozen cases of measles have been reported in Canada this year compared with that many in all of 2023.

Students in B.C. will start a two-week spring break on March 18.

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