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Measles Outbreak: Here’s what you need to know

February 14, 2019

BC is in the midst of a measles outbreak, and health officials are urging British Columbians to review their immunization status, and get vaccinated if there’s any chance they aren’t protected.


Measles is a highly infectious and contagious virus which is spread through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It only take minutes in the same room as someone to contract the virus, and in some cases you don’t even have to be in the same space – the infection can survive in close areas (such as a bathroom) for up to two hours after an infected person has left. In many cases, measles is spread before a person even knows they’re infected as they’re contagious from four days before to four days after the onset of rash.

Symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose and red eyes, as well as a red spotted rash that appears on the face and neck, and moves down the arms and legs. While most people recover within a week or two, complications are common and include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, seizures, deafness and brain damage. In extreme cases it can also be fatal.

The best way to protect yourself and those around you is to get vaccinated or check your immunization records to ensure you (and your family) have already received two doses of the measles vaccine.

  • If you were born before 1970 you are likely immune, but can still get safely vaccinated.
  • Anyone born between 1970 and 1994, or who grew up outside of BC, may have only received one dose of the vaccine and should receive a second dose to be immune.
  • Those born after 1994 routinely receive two doses of the vaccine.

If your immunization record is not up-to-date or unavailable, health officials say your safest option is to get a booster. To get your free vaccination, talk to your family doctor or contact your local public health unit. If you suspect you have measles, call your doctor’s office or closest medical clinic before going in so that proper precautions can be taken to protect others.

For more information on the virus, visit HealthLink BC or ImmunizeBC.

Media stories on this topic:

CBC – B.C. is in the middle of a measles outbreak. Here's how to figure out if you need the vaccine

Times Colonist – Vaccination requests spike amid B.C. measles outbreak

CTV – Unvaccinated teens asking Vancouver doctors for measles shots

CBC – B.C. measles outbreak: 33 students, staff ordered to stay home from schools

CBC – New measles case confirmed in Vancouver

Vancouver Sun – Second case of measles reported in the Vancouver area

CTV – Second measles case of the year reported in B.C.

Global News – Health officials confirm measles case in Vancouver area