Unvaccinated teens asking Vancouver doctors for measles shots
Published Monday, February 18, 2019 6:50PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2019 8:32AM PST
In the wake of a measles outbreak with nine confirmed cases, doctors in Metro Vancouver are seeing a surge of unvaccinated teens and young adults going against their parents and asking for the measles vaccine.
"I've seen youth as young as 14 years old coming in on their own and asking to receive vaccines,” said Dr. Eric Cadesky, president of the Doctors of B.C.
“Most of the youth that are coming to see me have done a lot of research, they’ve been exposed to both the truth as we know it in terms of vaccines as well as a lot of the opinions and outright lies."
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While the numbers are anecdotal at this point, Cadesky says he’s heard from a number of doctors in the region and every physician in his practice about the spike in young people asking to be vaccinated.
One of the patients Cadesky vaccinated this weekend was 23-year-old Maddi Bisset, who was never vaccinated as a child.
"My mom was very anti-vaxx, she was into homeopathy and more ‘natural’ solutions,” she told CTV News, suggesting kids raised as she was should think twice about what they’re told. “Ask questions, don't trust what you hear from your parents as gospel. You need to definitely talk to professionals and even talk to friends and ask them what they think because even me talking to my friends realized that I'm not the norm and that what my parents are telling me is not the full truth.”
The BC Centre for Disease Control says while those born before 1970 have immunity through exposure, those born after that year should already have the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine. In 1996, a second “booster” shot was implemented and while there was a catch-up period, it’s possible some people missed that shot. Anyone in doubt is encouraged to get a MMR booster.
“You cannot overdose on the vaccine,” said Cadesky. “So if there's any question as to someone's previous vaccine history, it's safe for them to receive another dose or two because these diseases we're seeing, like measles, are completely preventable.”
There is no minimum age for a child to ask a doctor for a vaccine in the province of British Columbia, says Cadesky, which gives him “hope that we'll be able to protect a generation that is more interested in getting safe and effective treatments"
Immunize BC suggests infants receive their first measles vaccine around their first birthday, with a booster in kindergarten.
Eight children at a Vancouver high school and two elementary schools have tested positive for measles, but health officials say it’s possible dozens of other kids could’ve been exposed to the highly-infectious virus at BC Children’s hospital. The ninth confirmed case came from an adult traveller.
Measles can be life-threatening. That’s precisely what prompted Bisset to get the shot after years researching and thinking about it.
“With all this information in the news about the measles outbreak, it just became such a bigger responsibility.