More than one thousand students in the Langley School District updated their measles vaccines during a catch-up program held over the summer months, and the province is now moving into phase two of their plan to learn if children remain under-immunized.
The three month campaign was an opportunity for non-immunized and under-immunized children to catch-up on their vaccinations which saw 1,018 children from School District 35 update their vaccinations, according to Fraser Health. The updates came through a mix of immunizations or record submissions.
In total, 18,945 children of the approximately 21,000 enrolled in the district are now caught up with their measles vaccines. The catch-up program was launched by the province earlier this year in response to several measles outbreaks across the province.
Health authorities across the province ran clinics from April to June at schools, public health units, and community health centres where children from kindergarten to Grade 12 could get vaccinated.
“In that time, 12,316 additional children became up to date for measles through immunization or record submission in the Fraser Health region,” said the regional health authority, which stretches from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.
There have been 31 confirmed cases of measles in the province in 2019, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Of those 31 cases, there were 10 in the Fraser Health region, 11 cases within Vancouver Coastal Health and eight within Vancouver Island Health.
Now, the province is working to implement phase two of their plan to increase immunization rates by introducing the vaccination status reporting regulation.
The regulation, which was enacted on July 1, requires every student from kindergarten to Grade 12 in public and independent schools, including students who are home-schooled, to have their immunization records in the provincial immunization registry.
In August, public health officials began reviewing school enrolment records to match them against immunization records for children in kindergarten to Grade 12 in the registry.
If a child’s vaccinations were administered by a public health nurse in the province, the information will automatically be entered into the registry; however, if a vaccine was administered by a physician, pharmacist or done out of province, that information may not have been entered and should be reported to the health authority.
“This mandatory reporting of the immunization status of students will ensure the public health system is prepared in the event of an outbreak,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Furthermore, with the up-to-date records, public health can reach out to families with children behind on their immunizations and provide an opportunity to catch them up, as well as discuss any concerns with parents.”
Kids who can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons are exempt.
Parents can check their child’s immunization status online at www.immunizebc.ca/vaccination-status-indicator.
Fraser Health will be contacting parents of children with incomplete immunization records to advise them how they can update that information.