Community pharmacists in British Columbia have reported an increased demand for measles booster shots and vaccinations as public health officials urge British Columbians to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.
“Our pharmacists have seen an increase in demand from patients wanting to get MMR vaccines,” said pharmacist Linda Gutenberg, Deputy CEO of the BC Pharmacy Association.
“We have had a couple of clients come in and ask, ‘What should I do?’ and … I (always) refer them to the Public Health Unit,” said Tarek Mohamad, the pharmacist who owns Fraser Canyon Remedy’s Rx Pharmacy.
As of the afternoon of Feb. 24, 13 cases of measles had been confirmed in the Vancouver area by Vancouver Coastal Health, with one individual travelling by plane through Vancouver to Edmonton.
Since news reports, pharmacists are reporting a demand by patients seeking the publicly-funded Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine. And perhaps because B.C. pharmacists can provide vaccinations to adults and children five and older, one Lower Mainland pharmacy recently provided 30 immunizations in a day.
Most individuals do not need an appointment to get a vaccine, but patients may wish to call their local pharmacy to find out if they have supply and, if not, when they will be receiving it.
There is no cost to patients for the publicly funded MMR vaccine.
The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends children are given two doses of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, with the first dose given at 12 months old and the second dose, which includes the varicella vaccine, at four- to six-years old.
If children or adolescents are unimmunized, it is recommended they get two doses of the measles-containing vaccine.
Adults born after Jan. 1, 1970, should check their immunization records to see they have received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine (given as MMR). It is important, especially for travellers.
Adults born before Jan. 1, 1970, are assumed to have had measles, and are therefore protected, but those without a history of measles or a vaccine should be given one dose of the MMR vaccine.
According to health officials, it is safe for adults who are unsure of their immunity to get the vaccine again regardless if they have had the measles or two doses of the MMR vaccine.
However, Mohamad suggests speaking with your local Public Health Unit first, as they can access your measles, mumps and rubella antibodies, and whether or not an update to your immunization is necessary.
“There are a lot of variables, it depends on your age and all sorts (of things),” said Mohamad.
For more information, please visit Hope’s Public Health Unit at 444 Park St., or online at FraserHealth.ca/your-community/Hope.