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Measles Vaccine and March Break Travel

February 27, 2024

In a statement released on February 23, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer urged Canadians to get up to date with their measles vaccine as spring break approaches. The concern is that the global surge in measles activity, combined with the decline in measles vaccine coverage among school-aged children in Canada, could lead to an increase in imported measles cases, potentially resulting in transmission in communities in Canada.

The best protection against measles is vaccination with two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, which are almost 100% effective at preventing infection. According to the official statement, as of February 23, 2024, there have been 6 measles cases in Canada, some of which have required hospitalization. Most of these cases involve unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children who traveled internationally. (Government of Canada). People who are not vaccinated against measles may be at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally. Currently, a travel health notice for measles is in place for all countries. Locally, there has been a decline in measles vaccination as a result of disruptions in access to routine childhood vaccines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although there have not been any cases of measles in the LGL region, we are preparing for the risk of local cases when people return from travel abroad,” says Dr. Linna Li, Medical Officer of Health for the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. “The measles vaccine is safe and effective, and is the best way for people to prevent measles.”

The Health Unit is providing 4 immunization clinics prior to March break specifically for measles vaccine, only for families with children traveling in the next few weeks. Appointments will be booked once a Health Unit Nurse has assessed the need for the vaccine.

If you are a family with children that will be travelling in the next 3-4 weeks and you believe your family members have not been fully immunized for measles, please

  • Call 1-800-660-5853 extension 2313 and leave a message.


All others are encouraged to contact their health care provider to see if they should have additional measles immunizations.

Measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe respiratory infection caused by a virus. It is not ‘an ordinary infection that all children should have’. Sometimes measles is called “red measles” (or rubeola). It should not be confused with “German measles,” which is another name for rubella. Over 90% of people who are not immune to measles and who come into contact with the virus will become infected.

Measles begins with a fever, aches and pains, runny nose, a severe cough (often bronchitis, an infection of the airways) and very red eyes. You may think your child has a cold. In a few days, a reddish blotchy rash begins around the face and head, then spreads down to the body, arms and legs. Bright light may cause eye pain. Measles can cause an ear infection, blindness, and pneumonia (a serious disease where breathing becomes difficult). Young children and people who are pregnant are at highest risk of severe health effects.

If on your journey home to Canada from travel abroad you suspect you may have contracted measles, put on a well-fitting medical mask and limit contact with others, if possible. If you are experiencing symptoms, tell a flight attendant or cruise staff before you arrive in Canada or a border services officer as you enter the country. If you develop symptoms of measles after your return, call a health care provider immediately. If you need to be seen in-person, the health care provider can arrange to see you while preventing the spread to others. If you don’t have a health care provider, visit: East Region Virtual Care Clinic | Virtual Care in Ontario`s East Region ( or contact Health Connect Ontario at 8-1-1.

To get more information about measles and vaccination, visit the Measles section of our website.


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