A number of patients and parents have inquired about measles over the past few weeks. This is not surprising, as the reported incidences of measles has been on the rise in North America. Currently, there is an outbreak that is being linked to Disneyland. Health authorities have confirmed at least 109 cases traced back to the popular tourist destination. Finally, there have been four confirmed cases of measles in Toronto over the past week.
Measles is a serious disease. People die from measles. Worldwide, it still affects more than 250,000 people yearly. It can cause an infection of the brain that can lead to permanent brain damage. In rare situations, measles can cause an even more acute infection and swelling of the brain that is fatal.
There is no specific treatment for measles. Fortunately, there is a safe, highly effective, publicly funded vaccine that is available to Ontarians. This is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from measles.
- The vaccine is typically given on or after the 1st birthday, and then a second dose given between 4-6 years of age.
- Adults born on or after 1970 who have not had measles or no evidence of immunity should get one dose of the vaccine.
- In addition, a 2nd dose is recommended for young adults (18-25), post secondary students, persons who received an earlier form of the vaccine (1967-1970), healthcare workers, and those that plan to travel internationally (or to Disneyland). *
Finally, the vaccine is safe with decades of evidence and data to back this up. There are risks with all medications and treatments, but in this case, the benefits far outweigh the risks. You can read more about the side effects here and here.
If you want more details and statistics about the vaccine, click here. If you want to read something about the importance of getting vaccinated for measles from someone much more eloquent than me, click here. As always, if you have more questions, feel free to speak to your Magenta Health family doctor.
*Taken from Ontario's immunization schedule;