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Measles outbreaks are occurring around the world, despite it being a vaccine-preventable illness. Routine immunization against diseases like the measles saves millions of lives every year. Join Global Citizen by taking action on Global Goal 3 on good health and well-being for all.

Just one month after the province of British Columbia launched its immunization “catch-up” program, the ministry of health has announced that more than 3,800 doses of the measles vaccine have been administered.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Routine vaccination generally sees children given two doses — one at 12 months old and the other between 4 and 6 years old, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

But not everyone has been vaccinated, and as global measles outbreaks hit home, the province decided to take action.

Starting April 1, unvaccinated children were given access to vaccines in schools and community clinics. The province sent out more than 551,000 letters to families with school-aged children, set up 129 clinics in school, as well as 1,343 community ones.

In 2019 alone, there have been 45 reported cases of measles in Canada in Québec, BC, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Alberta, and New Brunswick, according the most recent data. In BC alone, there have been 29 confirmed cases.

BC announced its plan for the catch-up program was being put into effect to protect the health and well-being of students and staff in the province. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the goal was to vaccinate as many people as possible before the end of the school year.

Another hope was that this immunization program would prepare families for the new mandatory reporting that will be enforced in schools next fall.

“Given the global situation, there may be more cases in the coming months — indeed, the coming years. Immunization is our best defense against this outbreak. To protect children and others who cannot be immunized for medical reasons, we launched the measles immunization catch-up program in April,” Dix said in an update on the catch-up program.

Measles outbreaks are occurring all over the world, from Madagascar to the Philippines to Europe to the United States, where the current outbreak has reached a 25-year peak.

Prior to the MMR vaccine, which was introduced in 1963, massive outbreaks would take place every 2-3 years and were the cause of an estimated 2.6 million deaths per year.

BC will continue with its catch-up program this month by delivering vaccines via 594 in-school clinics and 148 community ones.


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