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Quebec College of Physicians warns against "vaccine hestinancy"



As the Department of Public Health in Montreal makes it difficult to contain the city's first measles outbreak this year, the Quebec College of Physicians warns against the dangers of vaccine hesitation in the public.

On Thursday, the authorities declared a small outbreak in the city after reporting two new measles infections, which increased the sum to seven this year. What is concerned about public health managers is the fact that the two new infections are secondary, which means that the individuals contracted the highly contagious disease in the city and not abroad.

Last time Quebec reported an outbreak of measles in 2015 in the Lanaudière region, when 163 people became ill.

This time, the Montreal authorities are particularly vigilant, given the surplus this year in the number of measles cases in the United States and around the world. The state of New York has been particularly hard hit, with more than 700 cases.

A nurse is loading a syringe for vaccination.

Evan Vucci /

AP

In Montreal, the Public Health Department has traced the source of the latest outbreak to an unvaccinated individual who returned with measles from a trip to Paris on April 26. That person transferred the virus to an unvaccinated female family member and the girl then spread the measles to a health care professional who was previously vaccinated.

The infected health worker then visited six public places from May 11 to May 14. As many as 400 people could have been exposed to contagious custodians, including children in day care centers in Mount Royal.

On Friday, the nurses visited the nursery, Garderie Aventuriers d & # 39; Outremont on Bates Rd.

"The nurses were here to administer vaccines to the children who were at risk," says Angela Barbato, co-owner of the day care center, who is licensed for 70 children up to the age of 5.

"I can confirm that vaccines have been administered, but I can't work out the number. It's confidential information."

Barbato added that "we are definitely busy and the parents are also occupied, but under the guidance of Health Canada we have been able to inform parents about what is to come."

At the same time, the Public Health Department opened five vaccine centers that will provide free shots until June 14 for anyone who has not been immunized. The following groups are considered protected: all born before 1970; those born from 1970 to 1979 who were given a single shot; and those born after 1980 who got two shots. (Two shots provide 95 percent protection against measles.)

Authorities encourage anyone with doubts as to whether they have been vaccinated to call 811, the Info-Santé hotline. By Friday afternoon, fewer than a dozen people had been referred to Info-Santé vaccination, said Justin Meloche, a public health department spokesman.

In addition to administering vaccines, nurses have also given immunoglobulins to unvaccinated individuals who were exposed to an infected person. Immunoglobulins are antibodies to temporarily increase the immune response to reduce the likelihood of catching measles.

On Wednesday, Dr. Yves Robert, secretary of the Quebec College of Physicians, on an open letter on the professional order's website, urging Quebecers not to be seduced by doubts about vaccine effectiveness.

"Over the past few weeks, measles has returned to North America and at the same time the recurrence of the periodic debate on immunization," Robert wrote, adding that "losing doubt sometimes has more effect than a sea of ​​evidence."

"We will no longer remember the risks of what we wanted to prevent and we only talk about the side effects of the preventive tool, real or hypothetical."

The World Health Organization has observed a 30 percent increase in the global incidence of measles since 2016, leading to the tip of gaps in vaccination coverage.

In Quebec, a study showed that 94.2 percent of the two-year-olds in 2016 had received both doses of measles vaccine, up from 87.6 percent in 2006. But the same report related comments by parents reflecting the doubts of the vaccines, with some parents providing information from unreliable social media platforms.

And, according to the latest statistics from the provincial government, measles vaccine coverage was 78 percent in primary schools in 2018, well below the 95 percent coverage target.

Fairs can cause high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash. The infection can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis, and can be fatal.

aderfel@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Aaron_Derfel

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