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Should I get vaccinated against measles?

Should I get vaccinated against measles?
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Measles is incredibly infectious and common in some parts of the world

Although measles was declared eliminated from Canada in 1998 because of vaccination programs, it is common in other parts of the world, and it is incredibly infectious. You can get infected by measles if you have not been vaccinated against it, or if you have not had measles.

If you come back from travelling with a measles infection it is easy to pass it on to vulnerable people, such as babies and the immune-compromised, who cannot be vaccinated. You can spread measles even before you know you are sick.

What are the risks of a measles infection?

The symptoms of measles are:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • eye irritation and redness
  • sleepiness and low mood
  • rash over face and body.

Some people develop complications of measles. These can include:

  • encephalitis (swelling of the brain, which can be fatal and may result in brain damage)
  • blindness
  • miscarriage (if a pregnant woman contracts measles)
  • ear infections

It takes two to three weeks to recover from a measles infection, which would certainly spoil anyone’s holiday. You may also lose earnings if you have to take that time off work. You should also stay in quarantine until four days after the rash has appeared.

Am I at risk from measles when travelling?

Measles outbreaks happen in all parts of the world. If you have not had measles and you have been vaccinated against it, you are at risk of catching measles. It is very difficult to avoid being infected with measles, as it is not always obvious who is carrying it. People are contagious with measles before they realize they have it.

The Government of Canada’s Global Measles Notice has some information about how travellers can protect themselves from measles.

How do I know if I’ve been vaccinated against measles?

You may be protected from measles already under the Canadian vaccine schedule. If you’re not sure, you can ask your normal healthcare provider to look at your records. The vaccine is given in two doses and some people have not had the second dose, so they are not completely protected.

How does the measles vaccine protect the community?

The greater the number of people within a community who have been vaccinated against measles, the less chance the virus has to infect people and spread. So it is less likely that people who cannot be vaccinated (such as babies and people whose immune systems do not work properly) will be exposed to measles. Measles is very infectious, so at least 95% of people must be vaccinated to provide community immunity.

If you can be vaccinated against measles, you should be. It will protect you, and it will protect others.

Can I get the measles vaccine?

We can administer the measles vaccine at Canadian Travel Clinics – just ask when you make your appointment. The vaccine is given in two shots and it is combined with vaccines for mumps and rubella.

How do I make an appointment for travel vaccinations in Etobicoke?

Canadian Travel Clinics can offer same-day vaccinations at our travel clinics in Etobicoke. Make an appointment online right now.