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Measles outbreaks have reached B.C., health officials stress vaccination in North

NNSL photo. The Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife, NWT.

With measles outbreaks in Vancouver this year government health officials are reminding the public that, although there is no immediate outbreak concern in Yellowknife, it is important to get vaccinated.

Dr. Andre Corriveau, the territorial medical director, says that vaccination is vitally important to staving off measles.

“We've lost a lot of ground in preventing measles,” he said. “Measles is a disease that could be eradicated entirely and at one point was eradicated from North America entirely.”

Dr. Andre Corriveau, is the territorial medical director for the NWT.
photo courtesy of Damien Healy

According to Corriveau, a lot of it has to do with paranoia about vaccinations and people not vaccinating their children. Children are not any more at risk than an adult, it's all about getting vaccinated.

“The current generation of parents weren't around in the 50s and 60s where there were thousands of cases and a death in every thousand patients,” said Corriveau. “The best way to combat it is with proper immunization.”

People run the highest risk of contracting the virus when travelling, especially to countries that do not have robust MMR vaccination strategies.

The government of Canada has posted travel health notices for measles in Africa, Europe and South America.

“Measles is highly contagious and if you're sitting in close quarters, say at an airport, with someone infected who is coughing and sneezing, you could catch it very easily,” said Corriveau.

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) is recommended in two doses, once at 12 months of age and once again at three years old, according to HSS.

“To ensure maximum protection, people have to get vaccinated and get both doses,” said Corriveau. “This is not a benign disease to be taken lightly.”