B.C. measles outbreak prompts increase in vaccinations for kids: health minister

VANCOUVER — A measles scare in British Columbia has promoted a 106-per-cent increase in vaccinations for school-aged children compared with a year ago.

Health Minister Adrian Dix provided the update on a catch-up program launched April 1 after more than two dozen cases of the highly infectious disease were diagnosed in the province this spring.

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Dix says the ministry sent over 550,000 letters to families with children, held 129 in-school clinics and dispensed over 3,800 measles vaccines.

Health authorities focused on reviewing all students' immunization records after an outbreak that began earlier this year.

The catch-up program is the first step in the government's two-phase plan to educate people about the importance of immunization and to help them become aware of their own vaccination status.

Nearly 600 more in-school clinics are planned for May and June to help prevent the disease that can spread through the air when an infected person breaths, coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose, inflamed eyes and a distinctive red rash on the face.

While it's considered a rare disease in Canada, measles is still common in other parts of the world and some cases linked to B.C.'s outbreak have been imported by travellers.

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