Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, provided an update on the measles immunization catch-up program that was launched April 1, 2019.
Since April, more than 551,000 letters were sent to families with school-aged children, 129 in-school clinics were held, 1,343 clinics were held in the community and 3,807 doses of measles-containing vaccines were administered by health authorities to K-12 students – a 106% increase compared to last April.
In April 2019, health authorities’ efforts focused on reviewing all students’ immunization records, and informing families and schools. This preparation was necessary to effectively plan the immunization clinics, which focus on students who are under-immunized or unimmunized for measles.
Community pharmacists and primary care providers are key partners in the catch-up program. Pharmacists administered 219 doses of vaccine for measles for children and youth aged five to 19 years in the past month.
Efforts will continue through May and June, with 594 in-school clinics, 1,912 regularly scheduled public health clinics and 148 additional community immunization clinics planned at this time. Health authorities will continue to work with schools to notify parents of upcoming measles immunization catch-up clinics and what to expect if their child needs a measles immunization.
As of May 6, 29 confirmed cases of measles have been reported in 2019 among B.C. residents. These include:
- nine cases in the Fraser Health region;
- 10 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region;
- eight cases in the Island Health region; and
- two in the Interior Health region.
Since the start of January 2019, more than 13,515 doses of measles-containing vaccines were provided to school-aged children. From Jan. 1 to March 31, 2019, there was excellent uptake on the immunizations, with more than seven months of the doses of the vaccine used already.
The catch-up program is the first step in government’s two-phase plan to educate people about the importance of immunization and to help them become aware of their immunization status. Offering the measles immunization catch-up program now will also help prepare parents for mandatory reporting of vaccination status, which is planned for fall 2019. Details on the reporting requirement will be announced.