Measles risk rising as ‘vaccine fatigue’ leaves schools years behind in Mississauga and Brampton: report

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Published April 23, 2024 at 11:07 am

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Public health services are still not back to pre-pandemic levels and the risk of infectious disease is rising as routine school vaccinations have a years-long backlog in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.

The details come from the annual review of Peel Public Health which shows health care services in the region are still struggling to recover from strains of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just 70 per cent of all Region of Peel health care services that were either put on hold or scaled back during the pandemic have been restored, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kate Bingham told Regional Council earlier this month.

The review did not list which services are still on hold but raises the alarm over a backlog of school vaccinations that “will take several years and additional resources” to get under control.

The region says an “inefficient” provincial records system and unreported vaccinations during the pandemic have compounded the backlog, as well as staffing shortages and recruiting challenges.

But the report also points to post-pandemic “vaccine fatigue” as one reason kids are falling behind on their vaccinations, and says the region will need to push out messaging “to increase parents’ awareness of their responsibility to report immunization records of school-aged children to public health.”

The report specifically calls out measles as a concern. So far this year there have already been 11 confirmed cases of measles in Ontario according to the province, while in all of 2023, there were just seven laboratory-confirmed cases.

Since the start of the year, at least four individuals with confirmed cases of measles have spent time in crowded places in Mississauga, including Pearson Airport, busy stores and a restaurant.

The review also highlights a disparity in funding for Peel Public Health when compared to similar sized cities, receiving $34 per capita in 2022 from the province while Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa “received $49, $49, and $39 per capita respectively.”

Increasing the region’s health care capacity will take more funding according to the Ontario Health Coalition, which says Brampton needs another hospital on top of the Peel Memorial upgrade project.

Measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, sleepiness, irritability, small white spots on the inside of the mouth and a red blotchy rash that first starts on the face and spreads down the body, arms, and legs.

For more information on vaccinations and to learn more about Peel Public Health services and clinics visit www.peelregion.ca/public-health.

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