HKPR District Health Unit – Urgent Call for Childhood Vaccinations as Measles Outbreak Rise

In Local

Measles is a highly contagious, serious airborne infectious disease that is vaccine-preventable.
The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit) is advising residents to exercise caution when traveling this March break as cases of measles continue to rise throughout Ontario and other countries.

National monitoring of cases gets reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada who issue out weekly surveillance reports and monitoring maps for measles and rubella in Canada. Currently, there are 4 active cases of measles in Ontario and reports of measle cases in two additional provinces.

While measles has been eliminated in Canada, outbreaks can happen when susceptible individuals (i.e. unvaccinated) travel to and return from other countries where measles is circulating. Most of these cases involve unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children, however, a non-travel, vaccinated measles case has been reported in Ontario. According to Health Canada only 79 per cent of the population have been vaccinated for measles.

Measles is a highly contagious virus spread through coughing and sneezing that can live for up to two hours in the air.

Symptoms of measles include fever, a red blotchy rash, red watery eyes, and white spots in the mouth. Measles is prevented by vaccination, and Ontario’s Routine Immunization Schedule includes two doses of the highly effective measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines for children before the age of seven years.

“Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, some children have had delays of their routine childhood immunizations, which includes the MMR vaccination, and leaves them at risk of contracting measles,” says Dr. Natalie Bocking, Medical Officer of Health, and CEO for the HKPR District Health Unit.

“With the rise in measles cases, we’d like to remind and encourage people to ensure all your immunizations are up to date, including the MMR vaccine, particularly before traveling internationally this March break.”

Reduce Your Risk and Potential Exposure to Measles
Due to the increased risk of exposure when travelling internationally, the HKPR District Health Unit is recommending that travelers be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles, and eligible people who are not up to date with their measles vaccination receive a dose of the MMR vaccine, including:

• Infants six to 11 months who will be travelling.

• Any child who missed their first and/or second dose of the MMR vaccine.

• Adults aged 18 years and older who have previously received one dose of MMR vaccine should receive a second dose if they are health care workers, post-secondary students, planning to travel or based on their doctor’s recommendation.

Routine immunizations, including measles, are available with your family doctor or those without a family doctor can book an immunization appointment with the HKPR District Health Unit by phone at 1-866-888-4577 x 1507 or online at hkpr.on.ca/VaccineClinics.

No matter where you plan to travel, make sure you check the travel health notices page for your destination to ensure you can be prepared and protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. It is important to monitor your health before, during and after your trip, so by planning ahead and ensuring you (and your children) are fully vaccinated, you can enjoy your vacation knowing you all have the best protection.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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