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Vaccinations urged amid mumps, measles cases; students face suspensions
April 10, 2017
By Lisa Queen

With six confirmed cases of mumps in York Region and four cases of measles in neighbouring communities, public health official are urging residents to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.

“Certainly, I think it’s a great refresher for the community in terms of the importance of vaccinations," said Martina Cuillerier, supervisor of vaccination clinics at the York Region Public Health department. "We have had some recent community activity in regards to both mumps and some measles situations in surrounding communities - and these are both vaccine-preventable diseases."

Residents should make sure they have received full dosages of vaccines; and if not, contact your health-care provider or attend a public health clinic, which can be found at Vaccinations are provided at no cost.

Just over a month ago, as part of an ongoing process of monitoring and enforcement, public health sent suspension orders to 3,218 York students born in 2000 with the public and French school boards.

The orders warned the students would be barred from school if they failed to provide proof they were properly immunized as required under provincial legislation, Cuillerier said.

On April 5, 123 of those students were suspended for failing to comply, a number that had plummeted to 17 by April 7.

By comparison, Durham Region Health Department said 615 high school students were suspended this month.

York public health has now sent out suspension orders to parents of students born in 2009, warning them to provide proof of immunization or face being barred from school, Cuillerier said.

The orders come amid the region having five confirmed cases of the mumps related to the provincial outbreak of the disease.

Between Jan. 1 and March 31, Ontario has had 95 confirmed cases and five probable cases of the mumps, the highest numbers since 2010.

York also has one case where a local resident contracted mumps while travelling outside Canada.

Public health is also investigating other suspicious cases of mumps, which often causes painful and swollen salivary glands, fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, tiredness and having trouble chewing. However, in more extreme cases they can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, fertility problems in men, swelling of the brain or a higher risk of miscarriage during the first trimester of a pregnancy.

Meanwhile, there are five confirmed cases of measles in the Greater Toronto Area, including three in Toronto, one in Mississauga and one in Oakville.

Symptoms of measles, one of the most contagious vaccine-preventable diseases in the world, include fever, a red blotchy rash, red watery eyes and white spots in the mouth.

“Situations like these measles and mumps, we do need to increase awareness in the community of the risk of these diseases and that vaccination is the best protection,” Cuillerier said, adding at least 90 per cent of residents need to be vaccinated to create a “herd immunity” to stop the spread of diseases.

“Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health investments available. It has saved more lives in Canada than any other public health initiative in the last 50 years."