Two local measles vaccination clinics have been organized in response to an outbreak of the illness in the Fraser Health region.
The clinics are for children under the age of five who require the measles vaccine and are by appointment only. For adults and children over the age of five, the measles vaccine can be obtained through a family doctor or local pharmacist.
The special vaccination clinics will be held at the Hope Public Health Unit March 25 and March 27, from 1-4 p.m.
About 80 to 100 cases of measles have now been reported in Fraser East. The outbreak, which originated with two confirmed cases at Mount Cheam Christian School in Chilliwack earlier this month, has now spread throughout the region. Fraser Health said measles alerts have been sent to students living on campus at the University of the Fraser Valley, and to staff who worked at the Chilliwack Lions Club Music and Dance Festival. A case linked to the original outbreak was also found on the Burnaby BCIT campus. Fraser Health is working with BCIT to alert students who may have come in contact with the individual, who was attending classes on March 6 and 7 in building NE1.
“We are disappointed that people who are showing symptoms of measles are not isolating themselves as requested by Fraser Health and as a result other people in the community are being exposed to this infectious disease,” said chief medical health officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder. “The best protection against measles infection remains two doses of measles vaccine.”
The measles virus spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. It can survive in small droplets in the air for several hours. Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes (often sensitive to light). These are followed 3-7 days later by a rash, which starts first on the face and neck, and spreads to the chest, arms and legs, and lasts at least three days. You may also notice spots inside your mouth that look like small grains of sand on a red base.
People with symptoms of measles are asked to isolate themselves at home. Anyone that is seriously ill should contact their doctor, public health unit, or emergency department prior to arriving in order to prevent the spread of the disease to other vulnerable patients.
The Hope Public Health Unit is located at 444 Park St. and can be reached at 604-860-7630.