More than 30 students at two schools in Vancouver have been ordered to stay home until they provide proof they’ve been vaccinated against measles.
There have been eight confirmed cases of measles across the two French language schools, Ecole Secondaire Jules-Verne and Ecole Rose-Des-Vents, with no new cases reported since February 15.
Staff and students at both schools have been asked to provide proof of immunity; 33 students and one teacher have been unable to do so – either because they can’t find proof or because they’re refusing to vaccinate.
The Vancouver Courier reports those who have been ordered to stay at home are to do so until March 7, which is the end of the incubation period and so the risk of infection will have passed.
Medical health officer Dr. Althea Hayden said, as reported in the Vancouver Courier:
If they can’t provide proof of immunity to measles, so either proof that they had measles or proof that they’re immune to measles through vaccination, then they have to stay home until there’s no longer a risk of the measles.
Hayden said yesterday (February 19) she could not confirm how many of those cases were a result of parents making the choice not to vaccinate.
Before the measles outbreak, vaccinate rates at both schools were around 70 per cent. They are now around 95 per cent, but there is still the issue of the 33 students who have been ordered to stay home.
Measles is a highly contagious (but preventable) viral disease, which symptoms include a high fever, characteristic red rash, and bloodshot eyes – among other symptoms.
Routine vaccinations for children are key in reducing the number of deaths caused by measles. But with people trusting vaccinations less and less, many are failing to vaccinate their children.
Vaccine-preventable diseases include:
Here are 5 facts on vaccines you need to know pic.twitter.com/T5uZFZeLzT
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 18, 2019
The first case of measles was reported by Vancouver Coastal Health on February 9, with the last day anyone at the schools could have been exposed to the virus being February 14. So in just five days, eight students had caught the highly infectious disease.
Hayden said the vast majority of students who were potentially exposed during that time would have already become ill if they were going to; the goal of the ‘stay at home’ order was to single out any possible unidentified measles cases.
The World Health Organization describes the vaccine as ‘safe, effective and inexpensive’, yet there is a growing distrust of vaccinations which the organisation says are based on ‘pure misinformation’.
Hopefully the schools won’t experience any more outbreaks now their vaccination rates have improved.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).