Ministry of Health institutes program to avoid any future measles outbreaks

The Ontario Ministry of Health has identified the possibility of a provincial measles outbreak and has set up an inoculation campaign to avoid it. There are still enough parents around who remember getting measles and fully agree with the government campaign.

The Health Ministry’s intent is to give a second measles vaccination to all Ontario school-aged children—“to immunize an entire generation,” as Jim Wilson, the Minster of Health, proclaims. Children usually receive a measles shot just after their first birthday, but according to statistics, the dose fails five per cent of the time. That explains the necessity for the second campaign.

Accompanying the press release was a fact sheet describing the inoculation campaign and explaining its necessity. The fact sheet says that all children from junior kindergarten to OAC will be vaccinated. The campaign will take place in school and will be administered by public health nurses. The vaccine will not be available from family doctors. Students who do not receive the vaccination can be suspended from school unless they give valid personal, religious or medical reasons.

The need to carry out this campaign is clear to the Ministry of Health. Every few years, Ontario has an outbreak of measles. In 1995, the year of the latest outbreak, over 2,000 cases were reported—more than in all the Americas combined. Seeing this alarming statistic, the government saw the need to act decisively.

According to Health Ministry statistics, measles cause death in 1 our of every 3,000 cases, brain damage in 1 of 1,000 cases, pneumonia in 50 of 1,000 cases and ear infection in 100 of every 1,000 cases.

The government has purchased the vaccine, which has been used in Canada for the last 25 years, from Connaught Laboratories Ltd. in North York, Ont.