With the unexpected outbreak of measles earlier this year the provincial government is requiring all students entering or returning to school have their complete vaccination status registered with Public Health. This way, if a vaccine preventable disease should emerge, the public health registry will be compared to school registration allowing quick identification of children who are under immunized or have not been immunized at all.
Because of the earlier measles outbreak, as a first step this spring the Ministry of Health implemented the Measles Catch-Up program, in which nearly 40,000 students who had not been fully immunized…caught up, and are now fully protected.
And now with the implementation of the second step, the Vaccine Status Reporting Regulation requiring parents to report the vaccination status of their children, it is hoped that vaccination rates will increase even further. The government’s plan is that Public Health will contact parents whose children have incomplete or missing records to let them know how to provide the necessary information, as well as discuss immunization opportunities.
Ideally all school aged children will be up to date with not only their measles vaccine, which is combined with mumps and rubella, but also with other vaccines for pertussis, polio, and HPV, among a number of others that protect children against these highly contagious diseases. In the event of a measles outbreak, unvaccinated children must stay home for at least 21 days, the length of time it takes for symptoms such as fever and rash to appear.
Vaccinations are most often provided to children at specific ages by public health nurses at their school, so a large majority of children’s vaccination records are already with Public Health. Fewer vaccinations are provided by physicians and pharmacists, but if your kids are among this group, you will need to request their records and send them to Public Health.
For a disease that was eradicated in Canada 20 years ago, 31 cases of the measles have been reported in BC since the beginning of the year. BC doctors care about the health of all patients and hope parents take full advantage of the immunization programs available to prevent the preventable.
If you wish to find out more about immunization records in British Columbia, visit: https://immunizebc.ca/immunization-record-cards
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