Large swaths of the Tri-Cities are under vaccinated, Fraser Health immunization coverage maps show, resulting in concerns about the spread of measles.
As recent news reports suggest a traveler may have exposed people to the highly-contagious disease in Coquitlam last weekend and reports of measles emerging in other areas in the Fraser Health, the province has announced catch-up clinics for children who may not have had all their measles shots.
And some of those clinics are in the Tri-Cities, including several at high schools in School District 43. However, school clinics are for students who have been invited to attend.
According to a Fraser Health website, three measles immunization clinics are planned in the Tri-Cities for children in Kindergarten to Grade 12. Families will receive a letter beforehand telling them where and when they can go to get a vaccination.
Infants and adults requiring measles and other immunizations can see a doctor, an immunizing pharmacist (ages five and up) or public health clinics.
The Tri-City catch-up clinics for student measles immunization will be held May 25 at the Port Moody Recreation Centre, June 10 at Kyle Centre in Port Moody and June 17 at Place Maillardville Community Centre in Coquitlam.
Parents are encouraged to bring their child’s measles letter from public health if they see a pharmacist or doctor for immunization.
This isn’t the first time that a catch-up clinic was held in the Tri-Cities because of concerns. Four years ago, a measles vaccination clinic was held at Terry Fox secondary because of concerns the virus would spread from a student who contracted the it while on a flight from China.
Once again exposure to the highly-contagious disease is an issue after an individual caught the virus while overseas and was in several public places, including a Coquitlam hotel and restaurant, while they were infectious.
Guests at the Ramada by Wyndam hotel (631 Lougheed Hwy.) or the Sun Star Restaurant inside the hotel between 8:30 a.m. and noon Sunday may have been exposed. Shoppers at Lougheed Town Centre between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on the same day may also be at risk.
According to Fraser Health, measles can be transmitted through the air, close contact like kissing, or by sharing food, drinks or a cigarette with an infected person. The most effective way to fight the spread of the disease is through population-level immunization programs to achieve what is known as heard immunity.
To achieve herd immunity for measles at least 90-95% of the population needs to be vaccinated.
However, according to Fraser Health coverage maps, neighbourhoods in central Coquitlam and some areas of Port Coquitlam and Port Moody only have up to 79.9% immunization rates for two-year-olds.