This week it was reported that the 320 confirmed cases, mostly involving children, is the largest ever outbreak of measles recorded in B.C.
While these cases are mostly confined to the Fraser Valley, it is a stark reminder of the importance of immunization, especially for children.
And in timely fashion, the Cranbrook Health Unit is offering immunization clinics next week for kindergarten-aged children, to make sure kids’ immune systems are ready to go.
“Recent outbreaks of pertussis and measles in B.C. have highlighted the importance of keeping disease rates low, by keeping immunization rates high,” Interior Health advised in a press release.
Kindergarten boosters are being offered to children between the ages of 4 and 6 at the Cranbrook Health Unit. Clinics are scheduled for April 7, 11 and 14 and appointments can be booked by calling 250-420-2207.
Interior Health said that when children reach Kindergarten age they should get two booster immunizations of diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and chickenpox. As children get older, the protection from their infant immunizations can wear off. Vaccines trigger the immune system to be prepare to protect itself when exposed to certain bacteria nad viruses that causes diseases such as those listed above.
The DTaP-IPV vaccine protects against four diseases all in one shot.
• Diphtheria is a serious infection of the nose and throat and is spread through the air by sneezing, coughing or directly by skin-to –skin contact.
• Tetanus, also known as “lockjaw” is caused by a germ mostly found in soil that can enter the skin through a cut or scrape.
• Pertussis is a serious infection of the lungs and throat that is easily spread by coughing, sneezing or close face-to-face contact.
• Polio, although no longer in Canada, still occurs in other parts of the world and can reappear if immunization rates fall.
• The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to protect your child against the chickenpox illness and its complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and bacterial infections of the skin.
• Encephalitis can lead to convulsions, deafness or brain damage. For some people, the chickenpox virus can become active again later in life and cause a painful rash called shingles.
“Vaccines are safe,” the IH press release said. “It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get sick from the disease.”
Common reactions to the vaccine include soreness, redness and swelling where the shot was given. “These reactions are mild and generally only last one to two days.
The Kindergarten booster is easy to get. If you live outside the Cranbrook area, you can contact your local Public Health Centre for immunization information, to find out when Kindergarten booster clinics are being held in your area, or to book an appointment. Public Health Centres are listed under Health Authorities in the ‘Blue Pages’ of your local Telus telephone directory, or you can visit our website www.interiorhealth.ca and follow the links under Health Services/Service Listings/Public Health Centres. In addition, www.immunizebc.ca is a great source for information on vaccinations and immunization.