Vaccinations ‘stopped’ in Toronto because of measles risk

Image copyright Thomas Olaschuk Image caption Toronto city councillors had earlier put forward a motion stating that “syphillis, pertussis and measles” were putting community members at risk

Toronto city staff have “paused” some recreational programs because of a lack of staff who can be vaccinated against the diseases – including the measles.

Health experts fear measles outbreaks in the city.

It comes as residents in the US experience such outbreaks following a mid-term election, which meant many people did not vote.

Campaigners and politicians alike are urging that children be immunised, including U.S. President Donald Trump.

The city council unanimously voted last month to ensure that every child received at least one MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella).

But their decision did not take into account all the residents who can have unvaccinated children.

“We have families here in Toronto whose children are now at risk, because those parents don’t want them to be susceptible to polio, mumps and measles,” Mayor John Tory said last month.

Image copyright Thomas Olaschuk Image caption Councillor Peter Milczyn argued “the data suggest that all these diseases are not running rampant”

The city administration decided to temporarily halt certain recreational activities, including swimming, to keep their staff safe.

City staff have been telling councillors they cannot administer vaccines without a member of staff who has had the procedure himself.

Health officials say there are about 37,000 children in the city who are not immunised against measles.

They expect the Ontario government to offer those residents more opportunities to attend normal activities.

“We can’t mitigate the risks from contagious diseases with one member of staff – nor do we want to,” Councillor Peter Milczyn, who advocated for the suspension of swim programs, told CBC News.

“The data suggest that all these diseases are not running rampant.

“And at this point in time, we think that it would be in the public interest and in the interest of public safety for us to pause our recreational activities for a while,” he added.

However, the City’s health unit told CBC News they expected those services to resume soon.

Image copyright Keith Ridler Image caption Mumps and measles tend to only spread to highly exposed people – such as street vendors

Toronto’s health services have urged parents to read and abide by the Ontario Immunization Program notice, which also details the “almost complete lack of vaccination immunity” among the city’s child population.

The only groups that are unlikely to get measles are children who are fully immunised against the disease, infants under 12 months old, and those in the city aged 15 to 29.

My children are fine, as are my siblings’ children, which is why Toronto is in a possible position of having a measles outbreak and it is very alarming. — Marianne Turner (@myjones31) October 11, 2018

However, it is not necessary to get a MMR vaccine if the child is fully immunised against the virus.

While it is not clear why many families choose not to vaccinate their children, researchers have suggested that misinformation, fear and misconceptions are present in the population.

According to last month’s city council meeting, 90% of parents said they had received some amount of their recommended two shots of the MMR vaccine.

It said many children in the city have never received the disease.

They said those who are not currently vaccinated may need to be vaccinated with a new MMR vaccine.

Ebola cases

The recent deaths of two health workers in Africa have highlighted how under-vaccinated people are at a heightened risk from infectious diseases.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A health worker in Sierra Leone helps with the Ebola treatment centre

Meanwhile, a major new study says there are enough doses of the MMR vaccine available in Africa to protect some 100 million people.

“The emergence of the polio virus in endemic areas of the Horn of Africa could have very serious consequences on rural children that would subsequently face reduced education,” Professor Ayat Azza, from the Université Laval, said in an interview with MailOnline.

The study, which assessed all vaccines for the period 2002-2011, showed that between 20% and 30% of young children in those areas were not fully immunised.

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