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'We need to be alert': Roussin says public should check measles vaccination status


Manitoba’s chief public health officer is reminding the public to get up to date on their vaccines in light of a surge in measles cases in Canada.

Doctor Brent Roussin says there have been no new confirmed cases of the virus in Manitoba since 2019, which was related to international travel.

Still, he cautions anyone who is not up to date on their measles vaccines to do so, especially if you have Spring Break travel booked.

“Those born prior to 1970, we’d still like to see you have one dose if you’re travelling, and those born after 1970, we still say you should have two doses of vaccine,” Dr. Roussin said in an interview with CTV Morning Live Winnipeg.

Roussin says the province is not recommending booster shots to Manitobans who are fully vaccinated against measles, except in rare cases, like if someone is immunocompromised.

His comments come amid scattered case reports of measles in Ontario, Quebec, B.C., and Saskatchewan.

Notably, a fully vaccinated man in Ontario contracted the disease.

In Quebec, public health officials this week warned residents to catch up on their vaccinations as the number of detected cases reached about 10, located mainly in Montreal.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in January shows in 2022, rates of measles infection rose by 18 per cent globally over the year prior, with deaths attributed to the disease rising 43 per cent in that time and 37 different countries reporting large or disruptive outbreaks.

What is measles?

Measles is an extremely transmissible disease with symptoms including red rashes, fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, white spots in the mouth and fatigue.

It can also have severe complications like pneumonia, deafness, neurological sequelae and death.

“We don’t see that typically here because of our high rates of vaccines in the past,” Roussin said.

Symptoms can start to present anywhere from seven to 21 days after exposure.

The respiratory viral infection spreads through the air and close contact.

As part of Manitoba’s routine childhood immunization schedule, a first dose of the vaccine is given to children at 12 months, with a second at four to five years old.

As of 2022, about 79 per cent of Manitoba children were vaccinated against measles, Roussin said, which was down slightly from pre-pandemic numbers.

Still, children as young as six months can get vaccinated in Manitoba. Roussin recommends parents who are travelling with a child that age or older to make sure they’re vaccinated prior to leaving.

“Certainly, we don’t see this much in Manitoba because of the success of vaccines, but now as we see more spread internationally, as we see some of our vaccine rates come down, we need to be alert to the transmission of measles in Manitoba,” he said.

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagacé, Charlie Buckley and Katherine DeClerq Top Stories

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