The provinces is offering more measles vaccinations. (Black Press files)

Fraser Health working on measles immunization plan

No cases in the health authority

The Ministry of Health’s free catch-up measles shots and clinics for people who want to ensure their children are immunized will be followed in September with schools offering immunizations.

The province is launching a measles immunization catch-up program to help B.C. families ensure their children are protected from April through June 2019.

Health authorities will deliver the program – Fraser Health for residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The shots will be made available in elementary and high schools, public-health units, community health centres and mobile community clinics in select regions. Pharmacists will also be part of the efforts to increase immunization rates.

Fraser Health spokesman Dixon Tam said the health authority is still planning the recently announced immunizations, and wanted to remind the public the situation is not an emergency.

“Currently, there is no measles outbreak within our region, but we are working with the province, our health-care partners and school districts to ensure we increase immunity of most of B.C.’s school-aged children,” said Tam.

Starting in April, Fraser Health’s Public Health Unit will be sending letters to parents of children in kindergarten through Grade 12 who do not have up-to-date measles vaccinations to provide them with instructions on where and when they can go to receive the vaccination.

If a child was immunized by someone outside of Fraser Health Public Health, parents are encouraged to email their child’s immunization record to reportimmunizations@fraserhealth.ca.

The province is initially purchasing $3 million in the vaccine — the equivalent of a one year supply.

The catch-up program is the first step in the government’s two-phase plan to educate people about the importance of immunization and help them become aware of their immunization status. Offering the measles immunization catch-up program now will also help prepare parents for the mandatory reporting of vaccination status, which is planned for the fall of 2019.

Without a record of immunization (or proof of immunity to a disease), a person is considered unimmunized and unprotected and should generally be immunized or re-immunized to ensure protection. It is safe to repeat immunizations.

Parents should check their children’s immunization records to be sure they are up-to-date. If they are unsure or do not have the records handy, they can check with their primary care provider or public-health unit. Parents can provide their child’s records to their local public-health unit for entry into the provincial immunization registry. If a child’s current immunization record is already on file with the local health unit, parents do not need to provide it again.

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