Photo by Tiffany Akins, Vancouver Coastal Health
Two more cases of measles were announced by Vancouver Coastal Health on Wednesday, bringing to 15 the total number of cases this year.
“Both cases are related to the school outbreak, and had been receiving follow-up care as they were known to have been exposed to persons with measles infection,” health region spokesperson Tiffany Akins said.
In three of the cases, people without adequate immunity caught the measles outside Canada and brought it home with them, Akins said.
A dozen of the 15 cases are related to the outbreak in three Vancouver French schools where the first case was introduced after a family vacation overseas.
The father of the child with the first school’s case said he had consulted a tropical medicine clinic to get all special shots for travel to Vietnam but measles was not suggested by the clinic.
He had chosen not to immunize the students when they were babies because of fears of autism at the time. The father went on to say that while he no longer fears vaccines, the family had not gotten around to getting the children vaccinated against measles.
While the fears still exist, the science supporting any connection does not. The physician who first wrote of the supposed connection was exposed for falsifying information and for conflict-of-interest because he had already filed for a patent for a rival measles vaccine.
“We are very much into best practices, promoting peer-reviewed materials that are again based on best practices. We do not promote anti-vaccination materials at all,” said Anjela Godber, a highly-trained professional at the Pacific Autism Family Network who is familiar with both the science and realities of autism.
In the intervening years since the doctor published his false claims, millions of mainly children have contracted measles. The death rate for those who get measles in very poor countries is one in 10.
“Even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available, in 2017 there were 110,000 measles deaths globally, mostly among children under the age of five,” the World Health Organization said.
The good news is, vaccines work.
With increased uptake of measles vaccinations in developing nations, nations where people remember the ravages of measles infections, “measles vaccination resulted in an eight percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2017 worldwide,” WHO said.
Vaccinations affect the numbers, according to WHO: “From 2000 to 2017, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 21.1 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.”