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Measles warning at Maple Ridge secondary

A free immunization clinic is underway today at Maple Ridge secondary following potential measles exposure earlier in the week.

Fraser Health sent a letter to staff and students at Maple Ridge secondary Thursday, warning them of the potential exposure, after a student showed up with measles on the first day of school.

The letter advises everyone to check their vaccination records to make sure they’re up to date. If not, they’re advised to update their measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Fraser Health is hosting the free immunization clinic at Maple Ridge secondary Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is recommending vaccination for all students and staff who have not had measles, or who have not had two previous doses of the MMR vaccine.

Fraser Health adds in the Sept. 6 letter, that staff and students born after Jan. 1, 1970, who haven’t had any doses of the MMR vaccine, have to get immunized by Sept. 10 – or they won’t be allowed back at the school until Sept. 26.

Students and staff who’ve had at least one dose of the MMR vaccine are recommended to get a second MMR vaccine in order to be protected.

People also can get the MMR vaccine from their doctor, but they have to provide a record of that to the school by Sept. 10.

Fraser Health added that most people are protected by either having the MMR vaccine, or by having had measles in the past.

But it notes measles is highly infectious and spreads through the air and symptoms such as fever, rash, red eyes, cough and runny nose can start between one and three weeks after exposure.

Anyone with such symptoms is asked to alert Fraser Health and to stay at home. “Do not come to school and keep away from others who may not be protected.”

People can contact public health at 604-507-5471 during office hours, or the Maple Ridge Health Unit at 604-476-7005. If they go to a doctor or clinic or hospital, they should call ahead so exposure to others is minimized.

“Because it’s a public health issue, the school district is going to be acting under direction of public health. That’s how we’re proceeding,” said school district spokesperson Irena Pochop.

The letter adds that people who’ve had two immunizations of the MMR vaccine are considered protected if they were born after Jan. 1, 1970.

People born before 1970 are considered protected because of natural disease. However, people who were born between 1957 and 1970, who’ve had only one MMR dose, should get a second MMR immunization. Parents are asked to bring immunization records and consent forms to the clinic on Friday.

Phil Melnychuk

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