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Measles information for British Columbians

There have been a number of confirmed cases of measles in British Columbia. Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as respiratory secretions.
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Find answers to common questions about measles and vaccination on HealthLinkBC.

Updated on March 12   ̶  Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 18 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents and one case in an individual who traveled through Vancouver in transit to the Northwest Territories. For information about possible public exposures in the Lower Mainland, visit Vancouver Coastal Health. On March 9, Interior Health reported a single measles case that is not linked to the cases in the Lower Mainland. 

For questions about measles and vaccination, call 8-1-1 and speak to a nurse.

Measles is preventable with vaccine

Two doses of measles containing vaccine helps protect against measles. Check immunization records to make sure you and your family are up to date. It is especially important to ensure that immunizations are up to date prior to travel.

Measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and is available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists. To find a public health unit anywhere in the province, see the site finder on ImmunizeBC.ca

Information on when to get the measles vaccine 

MMR is routinely given as part of the BC Childhood Immunization Schedule at 12 months of age and at school entry at 4 to 6 years of age.

There is no change to the routine BC Childhood Immunization Schedule:

  • Infants under 12 months of age: MMR vaccine is not recommended for infants under 12 months of age. Infants who are less than 12 months of age may not respond to the measles component of the vaccine due to the presence of antibodies received from their mother during pregnancy. 
  • MMR vaccine is only recommended for infants six to 11 months of age if traveling overseas to areas with ongoing measles outbreaks. Such infants would still require two doses of MMR vaccine after 12 months of age. To receive vaccines related to travel, contact a travel health clinic.
  • Children under four years of age who have received one dose of MMR vaccine: There is no routine recommendation to receive the second dose earlier (i.e., before four years of age). 
  • If your child is younger than four years of age and traveling overseas to an area with high rates of measles, an early second dose is recommended prior to travel. This dose can be given as early as four weeks after the first dose.   To receive vaccines related to travel, contact a travel health clinic.
  • Adults born after January 1, 1970: Two doses of measles-containing vaccine are recommended. 
  • Adults born before 1970: Generally assumed to have acquired immunity to measles from natural infection, and therefore MMR vaccine is not recommended for these individuals. However, health care workers born between 1957 and 1969 are recommended to have two doses of MMR vaccine. 
Without a record of immunization (or proof of immunity to a disease), a person is considered unimmunized and unprotected and should generally be vaccinated (or revaccinated) to ensure protection. It is safe to repeat vaccines. Tips for locating immunization records

Symptoms of measles

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Rash that starts centrally including on the face, spreads to the limbs and lasts at least three days

If you believe you or your family has measles

  • Stay at home. If you suspect measles, you will need to be assessed by a doctor. 
  • Call the clinic or your doctor’s office before you go. Tell them that you think you or your child may have measles before visiting. This will allow your doctor to take precautions to protect other patients as an infected person can spread measles from four days before to four days after the onset of rash.

Who is at risk

Maintaining high levels of population protection against diseases like measles, rubella and chickenpox is important for individual protection and also helps to protect those who cannot be immunized because of medical contraindications such as a weakened immune system.

Individuals most at risk from measles are those who are completely unvaccinated against the disease including babies under one year of age. Individuals born after 1970 should have received two doses of a measles vaccine (often given as combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR) to be protected. 

More information and resources


Updated on March 7   ̶  Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 17 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents and one case in an individual who traveled through Vancouver in transit to the Northwest Territories. Read the epidemiological summary from March 7.

Updated on February 27  ̶  Two news cases of measles have been reported to Vancouver Coastal Health related to the school outbreak. Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 15 cases of measles among B.C. residents and one case in an individual who traveled through Vancouver in transit to the Northwest Territories. For information about possible public exposures and immunization locations, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.

Two additional measles cases have been reported. Both individuals acquired the illness while traveling abroad; the cases are unrelated to previous reports of measles in the Lower Mainland. An exposure alert has been issued by Vancouver Coastal Health for Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Richmond on February 11 and 12 and for various locations in Richmond between February 16 and February 18. For more information, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.


At this time there were 13 confirmed cases of measles among B.C. residents and one case in an individual who traveled through Vancouver in transit to the Northwest Territories. Read the epidemiological summary.

Two additional measles cases have been confirmed. An exposure alert has been issued by Vancouver Coastal Health for various locations in Vancouver, Richmond, Squamish and Whistler between February 15 and February 18. For more information, visit Vancouver Coastal Health.

In 2019, ten cases of confirmed measles have been reported to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC). Eight cases were reported in February in association with a cluster of related school-based outbreaks in Vancouver, linked to importation of measles from outside of North America. Read the epidemiological summary here.

 

In 2019, nine cases of confirmed measles have been reported to the BCCDC. Seven confirmed cases were reported in February in association with a cluster of related school-based outbreaks in Vancouver, linked to importation of measles from outside of North America. 


Two unrelated adult cases were reported through separate importations in January, both returning travelers from the Philippines. All cases have been among residents of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. 


Washington State declared a state of emergency related to the measles outbreak unfolding in Clark County. The BCCDC continues to monitor the outbreak in Washington State. To date, no cases have been reported in BC related to the Washington state outbreak





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SOURCE: Measles information for British Columbians ( )
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