B.C. touts 'significant' progress immunizing school children across province
The B.C. government's campaign to get more school-aged children vaccinated against the measles has made significant progress, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Tuesday.
From April 1 to May 30, health authorities across the province delivered 16,000 doses of the measles vaccine to students in the kindergarten-Grade 12 system, according to the government.
"This helps us get closer to our goal of ensuring that children are safe around British Columbia," Dix told reporters. "The progress has been significant, the campaign has been effective."
Another 230 in-school clinics are planned throughout the end of the month as well.
Dix said health officials have reviewed 566,106 records for school-aged children and determined 87.6 per cent have received both doses of the measles vaccine.
Another 7.2 per cent have received one dose, while 5.1 per cent – about 28,300 – haven't received either of the shots needed for effective protection against the highly contagious disease.
"We have a long way to go because we have to bring the people with one dose up to two and we have to reconcile the 46,000 students for (whom) we have no records," Dix said.
Though the records don't represent all children in B.C., the health minister described it as an "excellent sample size."
The province is also working to ensure all children's records are up-to-date in the system so it can implement its previously announced mandatory vaccine reporting system, which it plans to launch in September.
Details about the program have not been shared, but the government said they will be made public "in the near future."
B.C. has been pushing for immunizations amid a declining vaccination rate in the province and a spike in measles cases worldwide.
Last year, only 82 per cent of seven-year-olds in B.C. were up to date on their measles immunizations, down from 91 per cent just five years prior.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has sounded the alarm about increasing measles infections, which it blamed for 110,000 deaths across the globe in 2017.
Measles is rarely fatal in Canada, but can also cause severe health complications, including brain inflammation, convulsions, deafness and brain damage.
The virus has an incubation period of about up to 21 days, meaning it can take that long for symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes to show.