A petition calling for mandatory measles vaccinations for children attending public school in B.C. continues to gain momentum in the wake of an outbreak.
The Change.org petition has gained nearly 35,000 signatures over the past week in response to the latest outbreak of the disease in two Vancouver schools. Katie Mary started the petition to the Health Minister Adrian Dix, requesting, "to amend our current enrolment policy to include mandatory vaccinations - except with medical exemption."
Vancouver Coastal Health reports that there have been eight confirmed cases of measles at Ecole Secondaire Jules-Verne and Ecole Rose-des-Vents. However, there have been nine confirmed cases in total. Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated.
Some 33 students and staff at two French-language schools at the centre of a measles outbreak in Vancouver have been ordered to stay home because they haven’t provided proof of vaccination.
"Currently we do not request vaccine records to enrol in our schools. The current policy is that if there is an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, those without vaccines are requested (but not forced to) stay home," reads the petition.
"The biggest problem with this is that most of the diseases (chicken pox, measles etc) have a 10 day incubation period in which the patient can be contagious without showing symptoms. This puts our weakest children (cancer patients, immuno compromised) at great risk."
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest.
Vancouver Coastal Health notes that two doses of measles vaccine are 99 per cent effective at preventing measles, and most cases now occur in those born after 1970 who have had no doses or only one dose of the vaccine.
With files from the Canadian Press.