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Locals encouraged to make sure measles shots up-to-date after recent outbreaks

Lloydminster families may want to make sure their measle immunizations are up-to-date. Recent outbreaks of the airborne disease have popped up in B.C, the United States, and one case in Edmonton.

Alberta Health Services issued an alert this week after an individual with a lab-confirmed case of measles flew into Edmonton International Airport and spent 19 hours on a layover in the area. The passenger flew in on Feburary 12th and 13th from Vancouver, which has seen two measles cases.

The individual flew on Air Canada Flight AC236 and stopped at the Walmart Supercentre and Stars Inn Hotel in Leduc. AHS says people who were in the locations on those dates, who were born after 1970 and have not already had measles disease or received two doses of measles vaccine may be at risk.  They’re encouraged to watch for symptoms like a fever of 38.3 degrees Celsius or higher, a cough, runny nose and/or red eyes, and a red blotchy rash three to seven days after fever starts for three weeks.

Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer and Ministry of Health Dr. Saqib Shahab says the last time Saskatchewan saw an outbreak was in 2014, where there were a total of 16 cases.

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“The reason we didn’t have more than 16 cases is that we continue to have a high population vaccination rate.” Because measles is a serious and infectious illness, Dr. Shahab says he believes children should be up-to-date with their immunizations before they start school.

“It is really important to start immunization with time. For measles that means getting your first dose of Measles, Mumps, Rubella and varicella (chicken pox) at 12 months, the second dose at 18 months. So for parents who have children under the age of 2 make sure they are up-to-date with the measles vaccine.” Shahab adds that full borne measles are rare in vaccinated children. He says one MMR shot is 95 per cent effective, and two doses are 99 per cent effective.

The anti-vaccination movement is having less of an impact in Saskatchewan. Dr. Shahab says in the province fewer than one per cent of parents refuse immunization.

“Five to ten per cent have questions about immunization and for those parents, we really encourage them to talk to public health, talk to the physicians to get those questions addressed because vaccines are very safe and very effective.”

In a release, The Government of Saskatchewan says people travelling outside of North America with infants aged of 6-11 months should contact their local public health office to see if they need a measles vaccination. They say measles cases are rare in Canada but typically result from international travel. People are eligible to receive MMR  if they have not received the shots in the past.

Immunization services are offered in Lloydminster at Prairie North Plaza and any Shoppers Drug Mart.

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