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Measles immunization rates in Sask. high as out-of-province cases pop up

Measles cases popping up across several provinces, including one case in Saskatoon in January, is prompting the Saskatchewan Health Authority to remind the public to get vaccinated.

A few cases have been reported in B.C. and Ontario, but more recently Quebec reported 10 cases of the virus.

Click to play video: 'Breaking down the measles disease and how to protect yourself'

Breaking down the measles disease and how to protect yourself

That being said, Simon Kapaj, medical health officer in Saskatoon for the SHA, said Saskatchewan has a relatively high immunization rate, but vaccination rates vary between communities.

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“We aim for 95 per cent but of course, we have some work to do on that front. The coverage is around 80-85 per cent,” Kapaj said.

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He said the measles vaccine is recommended early for kids, starting for one-year-olds with the first dose and 18-month-olds for the second.

Kapaj said there was one confirmed case of measles in Saskatoon in January, but that was a travel-related case.

He listed some of the symptoms people might potentially see if they get measles:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • runny nose
  • red rash that starts on head and neck and spreads to the rest of the body

He said measles is not a simple infection and can have severe complications, with the most severe situations resulting in death.

Kapaj said that if people suspect they have measles they should contact their health-care provider before an assessment and not show up at a health-care facility.

Click to play video: 'Measles immunization rates low in Alberta'

Measles immunization rates low in Alberta

“We can prevent the virus from spreading to the rest of the community by taking several measures.”

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He said measles spreads easily by air and is very contagious.

“It’s one of the most contagious viruses that we know.”

He said there are several reasons some places may see a lower uptake in measles vaccinations than others.

Kapaj said demographics is one reason, as some communities are more supportive of vaccination than others. He also noted that ease of access to vaccines could affect rates as well.

He said Saskatoon and area has a relatively high uptake in vaccines, but the SHA has seen a lower uptake recently.

“We’re working hard with our local communities to increase uptake of all vaccines, including the measles vaccine.”

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