Date: Tue 12 Mar 2019
Source: Vancouver Sun [edited]
British Columbia [B.C.] Health Minister Adrian Dix announced last month [February 2019] B.C. is considering a vaccination registration system in the province's schools after a measles outbreak. As of last week there have been at least 17 confirmed measles cases this year . In addition to the measles, there have been 2 reported cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, on Vancouver Island this week.
The spread of communicable diseases increases when less than 90 to 95% of the population is immunized. "That (a lower rate of immunization) is considered to be a contributing factor" to the increase of pertussis, said Dr. Manish Sadarangani, director of the vaccine evaluation centre at the B.C. Children's Hospital.
Children should be immunized against pertussis at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months, in preschool, and in Grade 9, he said. And pregnant women are immunized to protect their newborns up to the age of 2 months, he said. Pertussis after age 15 or so causes a bad cough that's annoying but not dangerous. But a baby with whooping cough could cough till they're blue or vomiting and that could lead to a lack of oxygen. In a worst case, that can be fatal, he said.
"There is a push to have requirements for people to have all their (vaccination) documents before they go to school," said Sadarangani. A Health Ministry spokeswoman said pertussis is among the diseases that it recommends immunizing against.
Pertussis in B.C., like elsewhere, "remains an endemic disease" that goes through cyclical peaks every 3 to 5 years, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website. It says there has been a "gradual increase in overall pertussis activity" since 2012 and that "may reflect changes in population-level immunity."
In B.C., there were fewer than 13 confirmed cases per 100,000 population in 2017, which was slightly lower than the fewer than 20 cases in 2015 and 2016. But it's higher than rates of fewer than 5 to 10 per 100 000 in 2008 through 2014, according to the Centre. The highest rates were in Vancouver Island and Interior health authorities, particularly in Kootenay Boundary, South Vancouver Island and Okanagan regions, it said.
In 2017, the highest rates of pertussis were among babies one year and under, children 10 to 14 years old, and children 5 to 9. The lowest rates were recorded for children one to 4 years old, children 15 to 19, and adults 20 and older, it said.
An Angus Reid Institute poll released last month [February 2019] showed 70% of respondents believed vaccines against deadly diseases should be mandatory for schoolchildren. And a B.C. petition signed so far by more than 45 000 people is calling for mandatory vaccination for babies and kids. In its report, Angus Reid notes that reasons for not vaccinating children include philosophical, religious or personal reasons. It notes some parents believe chiropractic practices and naturopathy are alternatives to vaccination, which Health Canada says is not true.
Sadarangani said it's rare for people to receive a medical exemption for vaccinations, perhaps for a child sick with cancer, and it's important to immunize those who can be vaccinated to help protect those who can't be, the so-called herd immunity. He said if he would meet families who choose not to immunize, "I would try to talk to them to find out the reason." [Byline: Susan Lazaruk]