As the number of measles cases in Ontario doubled over the Family Day long weekend, Ottawa Public Health officials announced that they have not monitored immunization records at local schools for the last two years.
Suspension notices to students with out-of-date vaccinations were ceased during the 2013-2014 school year.
Health officials alleged the cost and time required to track the 150,000 immunization records would be prohibitive.
The total number of measles cases in Ontario sits at 17.
The latest case, the sixth for the Niagara region, is an unvaccinated female with links to the first incident of measles in the region.
Valerie Jaegar, Niagara’s medical officer of health, said that she expects the contagious virus to continue to spread in the province.
Measles had been declared “eradicated” by the United States Center for Disease Control in the early 2000s.
It slowly returned in recent years. In 2014 more than 400 cases of measles were diagnosed in B.C., linked to a Christian school with a low vaccination rate.
A December 2014 outbreak at Disneyland in California led to the current spate of measles cases in Ontario and Canada.
Symptoms of measles:
The communicable period for measles starts four days before the rash, and ends four days after the rash appears.
A recent study by the Angus Reid Institute showed that two thirds of Canadians believe vaccinations should be a mandatory condition for children entering daycare or school. They also found that nine of 10 Canadians believe the vaccinations to be effective, and that eight of 10 parents would vaccinate their own children.
The other two of 10 Canadians who would not vaccinate their children constitute a controversial group, known as anti-vaxxers, who do not vaccinate their children. This group has been blamed for the recent measles resurgence.
Last week Jennifer White, a mother of two from the Pickering region, blasted anti-vaxxers in a lengthy Facebook post after she learned her 15-day old son had possibly been exposed to measles.
Jennifer Reich, an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, has studied the anti-vaccination movement since 2007. In an interview with CBC’s The Current, she explained why many anti-vaxxers do not vaccinate their children.
It is due to a general mistrust of the government and the regulatory bodies administering the vaccines. She stated that while many parents do their best to educate themselves about vaccines, they sometimes read the wrong sources.
The findings from the Angus Reid Institute showed that about a third of Canadians believe that vaccinations may lead to serious side effects, such as autism or infertility.
On Feb. 17, Health Minister Rona Ambrose refuted claims about the vaccine in a press conference, calling parents who do not vaccinate their children irresponsible.