Measles immunization catch-up program reaches out to students, parents

Phase one involves ensuring students are up-to-date with vaccinations

In April 2019 the Province launched a measles immunization catch-up program, in an attempt to ensure that more of the province’s students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 are fully immunized against measles. The program is in response to a measles outbreak in B.C. that has seen 29 confirmed cases of the disease since the beginning of 2019, two of which were in the Interior Health region, and aims to reach children who were not previously immunized against measles or who may not have received both recommended doses.

Since the program’s launch, more than 551,000 letters have been sent to families with school-aged children, 129 in-school clinics have been held, 1,343 clinics have been held in communities throughout B.C., and 3,807 doses of measles-containing vaccines have been administered to K-12 students. This represents a 106 per cent increase compared to April 2018.

Last month, health authorities’ efforts were 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.

Immunization 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.

The catch-up program is the first step in the Province’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 the mandatory reporting of their child’s vaccination status, which is planned for fall 2019. Details on the reporting requirement will be announced.

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