Photo caption: Caption: Mother Amy (standing on the left) looks on as her son Rylan gets his measles shot at Voyageur School in Mistissini.
Cree Health Board teams are in schools in all 9 communities of Eeyou Istchee this week, to make sure all children and the adults who care for them are vaccinated against measles.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that can lead to serious health problems like brain damage and even death. It affects young children, teens, and young adults alike. Today, vaccination is the only effective protection against measles.
The school vaccination campaign is part of a Québec-wide effort to stop measles from making a comeback in the province. Measles was almost wiped out in Canada thanks to a safe, effective program of vaccinating every child around their first birthday. Last fall, for the first time since 2002, children in some parts of Québec were getting measles. This is a sign that many children in this province are not up-to-date with their childhood vaccinations.
In response to the outbreak, the Ministry of Health and Social Services ordered a school-based measles catch-up vaccination campaign. The goal is to get the vaccination rate back up to where it is supposed to be. In Eeyou Istchee, the Public Health Department of the Cree Health Board has the responsibility of planning the campaign, while teams of health workers in every community will carry out the vaccinations, with support from the local schools.
Most people – probably around 90% - don’t need to worry. Either they already received the measles shot as children, or if they were born before 1970, they lived in a time when measles was all around them, which makes them immune. The goal of the vaccination drive is to find people who are not protected against measles – especially children and youth – and get them vaccinated.
To be protected against measles, children need two doses of a vaccine called MMR. The letters stand for: measles, mumps and rubella (“German measles”). The measles vaccine has been used for 40 years and is safe and effective.
In Eeyou Istchee, the vaccination drive is heading for success thanks to the efforts of the local healthcare workers, teachers and school administrators, parents - and of course the children!
For more information visit the School Based Measles Vaccination Campaign page (Opération rougeole) on the website of the MSSS.