The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says it shares the concerns raised this week by international health experts about the new risk of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases in children.
In a statement Thursday to Granthshala News, the agency said measles vaccine uptake in Canada has declined over the past several years, but some parents cite the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for the current decline in vaccinations. And pointed to vaccine hesitancy.
“Canadian provinces and territories have indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in disruptions, delays and gaps in routine immunization of children,” the statement said.
Currently there is no active case of measles in the country but three cases have been reported this year LATEST PHAC REPORT,
A joint report published on Wednesday Measles is an “imminent” Granthshala threat due to lack of vaccine coverage and weak surveillance of the disease during the COVID-19 pandemic, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said.
The report said that in 2021, around 40 million children worldwide would not have received a single dose of the measles vaccine, as the pandemic disrupted and delayed routine vaccination programmes.
“It’s very worrying,” Shelley Bolotin, director of the Center for Vaccine Preventable Disease at the University of Toronto, told Granthshala News on Thursday.
“When coverage is decreasing globally, it is a matter of concern for all of us because we live in a globalized world, and the importation of measles from other countries takes occasion.”
As per WHO guidelines, Canada have targeted 95 percent vaccination coverage for the first dose of measles at age two and the second dose at age seven.
did a survey showed before the COVID-19 pandemic that 90 percent of children aged two had received at least one dose of the measles vaccine. It is a two-dose vaccine with the second shot being given at 18 months or usually before the child goes to school.
However, the pandemic has disrupted childhood immunization in the country.
In Ontario, thousands of students were behind on vaccines usually given in schools, health officials warned in April.
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He said routine vaccinations usually provided by doctors, such as the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, were also delayed in some areas due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, in Alberta, provincial data from the Calgary Zone showed in September that vaccination rates for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines dropped from 86 per cent of children with two doses at age seven to 78 per cent in 2019. percent in 2021.
In a previous interview with Granthshala News, infectious disease expert Dr. Craig Jayne said that number is far short of the 95 percent coverage needed to prevent measles outbreaks.
According to WHO measles chief Patrick O’Connor, a combination of factors such as social distancing measures and the cyclical nature of measles may explain why there has not yet been an explosion of cases globally, despite the wide immunity gap. This can change quickly.
“We are at a crossroads,” O’Connor told Reuters on Tuesday. “The 12-24 months trying to get it down is going to be very challenging.”
Measles was eliminated in Canada in 1998 thanks to vaccination efforts, according to the PHAC, but international travel occasionally causes outbreaks. However, the abolition was “re-verified” in July of this year.
PHAC urges Canadians traveling outside the country to consult travel health notice For information on measles and rubella outbreaks in other countries.
WHO says, “Measles is a threat anywhere, because the virus can quickly spread within many communities and across international borders.”
Bolotin said public health reminders to parents of the importance of vaccination were “absolutely” important given the new report’s findings, especially if their children’s appointments were missed during the height of the pandemic.
He also emphasized that the measles vaccine is “incredibly safe,” despite some concerns among hesitant groups, and has been used effectively for decades.
“I’m hoping, despite the conversation about COVID-19 (vaccines), that people trust this (measles) vaccine and trust the way their health care providers are communicating to them.” are,” she said.
Measles is a highly contagious and serious respiratory disease that can be spread by direct contact or through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. The virus can also spread by touching contaminated surfaces.
Early symptoms include high fever, runny nose, cough, watery eyes and small white spots inside the mouth. Several days after the first symptoms appear, a red rash appears on the face and body, which lasts for about a week.
Bolotin for Child Health has called coverage of the measles vaccine “the canary in the coal mine” because of how contagious the disease is. The period of infection can start four days before the symptoms appear, and last up to four days after the symptoms end, he said.
“When something happens that gets worse with child health, child vaccinations, the first thing that tells us about measles outbreaks,” she said.
Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, thousands of young children die from measles every year around the world.
According to the WHO, last year an estimated nine million cases of measles and 128,000 deaths were recorded. Health Canada says there are an average of more than 140,000 deaths each year, mostly involving children under the age of five.
– With files from Reuters and The Canadian Press