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HPPH Pushing Vaccines Again

Huron Perth, ON – Measles cases are increasing globally, including in Ontario. Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) strongly encourages residents to make sure they have protection against the measles virus and receive a vaccination if necessary.

Measles is one of the most highly contagious infectious diseases. The virus spreads through coughing and sneezing and it can live for up to two hours in the air or on a surface. 

Many people recover from measles within two to three weeks, but measles can cause complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, hearing loss, brain swelling (encephalitis), seizures, or, rarely, death.

In December 2023, the World Health Organization reported a 30-fold increase in measles cases in Europe. A rise in imported measles cases has been reported in the Americas, and there are currently four active cases of measles in Canada – two in the Greater Toronto Area.

“Vaccination against measles is safe and effective at preventing the virus,” says Dr. Miriam Klassen, Huron Perth Medical Officer of Health. “With the recent global and provincial increase in measles cases, I encourage everyone to consider their risk for measles, for example if planning to travel internationally, and to receive a vaccination if they are at increased risk.”

Current recommendations for vaccines against measles:

According to Ontario’s Publicly Funded Routine Immunization Schedule:

  • Children and adolescents should receive two doses of vaccine against measles to be considered up to date.
    • In Ontario these doses are typically given on or after the first birthday and at four to six years of age
  • All adults 18 years of age and older who have previously received one dose of vaccine against measles should receive a second dose if they are:
    • Healthcare workers
    • Post-secondary students
  •  Adults born before 1970 can be presumed to have acquired natural immunity to measles.

With increased international travel expected over March Break, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has made the following additional recommendations:

  • Infants six to 11 months of age who are travelling to areas with increased measles transmission should be immunized with one dose of vaccine against measles. Two additional doses are required on or after the first birthday.
  • Adults 18 years of age and older who have previously received one dose of vaccine against measles should receive a second dose if they are planning to travel to areas with increased measles cases.

If you are in one of the above groups, speak to your doctor. If you do not have a family physician, call Huron Perth Public Health. More information on international travel and measles risk can be found at Canada’s Global Measles Notice.  

Role of Public Health

Children in Ontario are required to be immunized against measles under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA).

HPPH is currently carrying out a review of student vaccination records as part of its regular ISPA review process, which will also identify students who may be missing a dose of measles vaccine.

Local healthcare providers are required to report to HPPH any suspect or confirmed cases of measles; HPPH takes actions to prevent the further spread of any measles. 

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