Our British Columbia Lower Mainland pharmacies are experiencing high call volumes and requests for the measles vaccine. Please know we are doing our best to secure additional vaccines on a daily basis and we will schedule your appointment as soon as we can. Please call ahead to book a vaccination appointment and we will add patients to a wait list where necessary as we strive to help all of our patients. Thank you for taking a proactive approach to taking care of your health.
Measles is an extremely contagious and serious disease. 1 or 2 out of every 10 people who get it need a hospital stay.
In Canada, measles is rare because of routine vaccination. But it can be brought here by unvaccinated people who travel overseas. Recent cases in the Vancouver area have been traced to travellers who were infected in Vietnam and the Philippines. Read more.
Measles can spread through the air when an infected person breathes, sneezes, or coughs. The virus can survive for several hours in droplets in the air or on surfaces. You can catch measles if you breathe in these droplets or touch contaminated objects (such as door handles) and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Kissing, or sharing food, drinks, and cigarettes also spreads measles.
What are the symptoms and complications?
Symptoms start to appear between 7 and 18 days after someone is infected. The typical symptoms include:
• Runny nose
• Sore throat
• Inflamed, sensitive eyes
• Red rash
Measles can have serious complications:
• Pneumonia — 1 in 10 cases
• Ear infections — 1 in 10 cases
• Diarrhea — 8 in 100 cases
• Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) — 1 in 1,000 cases
One in 3,000 people with measles may die from complications. Learn more
Vaccinations prevent measles.
The standard vaccination schedule varies slightly across provinces. Children get one dose when they’re 12 or 15 months old, and a second dose at either 18 months or between age 4 and 6 years.
If you were born before 1970, you’re likely immune because you probably caught measles in the past. If you’re not sure, a blood test can confirm immunity.
Health Canada recommends vaccination for adults born in or after 1970 who have never had measles. Learn more
If you are not sure whether you have had an active measles infection in the past or have received a measles vaccination, it is safer to be vaccinated than not.
All London Drugs pharmacies in British Columbia are equipped to provide MMR vaccinations and boosters. In other provinces, please contact your local health unit.
In British Columbia, please call your local London Drugs pharmacy to book a vaccination appointment. Calling ahead will ensure we can meet your needs – confirming we have the vaccination inventory available, and that a certified injection pharmacist is available to provide your inoculation.
What should you do if you’ve been exposed to measles?
If you’ve been exposed to someone with measles, don’t wait for symptoms to show. If you haven’t had measles, and haven’t been vaccinated, you should immediately get the shot. You need to get it within 72 hours after exposure to be protected. Alternatively, you may get an injection of measles antibodies within 6 days of exposure. Speak with your healthcare provider. Learn more
If you’ve been exposed to measles, or have been in an area with an outbreak, and you have a fever and rash, you should be examined. Call ahead so the doctor or nurse can make sure you’re examined in a closed area so others are not exposed to the virus.
If you have measles, stay at home for at least 4 days after the rash appears so you don’t spread the infection. You can take medication for your fever, if you wish. Wash your hands frequently, and cough or sneeze into a tissue. Don’t share food, drinks, or cigarettes. And don’t kiss anyone! Stay well hydrated, and make sure you get plenty of rest.
For those exposed to measles, please avoid direct contact with young children under the age of one year as they have not yet been immunized. Also avoid contact with people with compromised immune systems and also avoid direct contact with pregnant mothers.
To learn more about the measles vaccination, visit your local London Drugs pharmacy.