On a Friday in February, I received word that a local doctor suspected a young patient had the measles.
Physicians are required to report certain diseases like the measles to Public Health so we can take the necessary steps to avoid the disease spreading in the community.
While we were awaiting a lab report to confirm the child had measles, Public Health began to mobilize resources to be prepared to respond.
Nurses and support staff were available to help control the spread of infectious diseases and work with local schools and the community. And our Medical Officer of Health is always prepared to advise physicians about a local health threat.
Public Health determined which school the patient attended and quickly identified all the students not vaccinated against the measles.
Every student in Ontario is required to keep their vaccine records up-to-date with Public Health.
If the lab confirmed a case of measles, Public Health nurses would have to inform the families of over 100 students that they couldn’t attend school on Monday morning. These students would be excluded from school activities until Public Health determined the outbreak of measles was over.
I am aware that some parents don’t want to vaccinate their children and therefore need to be excluded from some community spaces to keep them healthy and to stop the spread of a virus. As the Director of Community Health and Wellness, I would encourage parents who are questioning vaccines to talk to us at Public Health.
I am pro-vaccine. But I understand parents have questions because they have their child’s best interests in mind. Talk to me or another Public Health nurse and let’s see if we can agree on how vaccinations are the best option for your family.
By the way, on Sunday the lab reported this was not a case of measles. Public Health staff stood down and we will go on with our other duties until the next report that our community is at risk.