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Canada Measles Outbreak - Questions & Answers

Thursday, 19 February 2015

With the measles outbreaks in Canada and the US, I think it is important that we look at the contentious issue of vaccinations and what you need to know about the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine and disease itself. And let's not forget about the growing anti-vaccination movement, misconceptions and measles contagiousness.

I have already voiced my opinion and have given your some important facts based on research and scientific evidence on vaccines. You can read more at Many theories suggest a direct link between autism and vaccinating children, which is why (not the only reason) many parents refuse to vaccinate their kids. Others believe vaccines are toxic and contain heavy metals. In any case, the debate on the contentious issue of vaccinations continues to grow.

Now, let's talk more about the current measles outbreak in Canada...

Q: How many cases have been confirmed and where exactly?
As of February 18 2015, the total number of confirmed cases in Ontario reaches 17, and this number has only been climbing. The cases include:
  • 9 cases in Toronto
  • 1 case in York Region
  • 1 case in Halton Region 
  • 6 cases in the Niagara regions, all under the age of 30 
The above cases include 2 children under the age of 2, a 14-year old girl in Niagara infected after laboratory testing, previously not vaccinated against measles and an adult in her 20s in Niagara not vaccinated against the virus. There are clear links between the Niagara patients infected. However, no connection has been established among the 11 GTA cases.

Q: How does the measles vaccine work and when do you get it?
The measles vaccine requires two shots - one at 12 months of age and another 4-6 years of age. The first vaccine is called the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.  According to CDC, you are considered to be fully protected against the measles virus if: 

1. You received the two shots of the MMR vaccine (fairly close together) - If you space out your vaccines, a booster could help. In Canada, the first shot should be administered at 12-15 months of age, and again at 18-months or at 4-6 years of age depending on your province or territory. And, you must get the MMR (3-in-1) vaccine; you cannot get a vaccine for measles on its own. Researchers say we still have much to learn about booster shots. Apparently, about 3 in 100 people, who get two does of the measles vaccine, will still get measles (a milder case and less likely to spread it to other people) if exposed to the virus. No one is sure why.

2. You had measles at some point in your life. 

3. If you were born before 1957 - Public health officials say that if you were born before 1957, you were likely exposed to measles.

Read more: What's in a measles vaccine? 4 things you need to know

If you're not sure that you've been vaccinated against measles, you can ask your doctor for a blood test to see if you're immune to the virus. You can also get another dose of the MMR vaccine, apparently there is no harm according to CDC. But, in any case, you must consult your doctor first.
Read more: Why is measles so contagious? 5 things you need to know

Q: What's in the MMR vaccine?

Q: Who should not be vaccinated against measles?

1. People with a compromised immune system, or infection, such as fever, should consult their doctor before getting the shot.

2. Pregnant women shouldn't get the MMR vaccine due to the risk to their fetus (it is recommended you wait about 28 days after vaccination before conceiving, according to the CDC).

3. If you have egg allergies, consult your doctor first.

Q: What are the side effects of the MMR vaccine?
Doctors suggest that you may encounter an aching arm from the shot, inflammation, or stomach aches, as well as susceptibility to other infections, such as colds, and so on.

Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada, CDC, Global News
Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V. For any questions related to vaccinations and the measles outbreak, you should consult your physician. 

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