As measles cases resurface in Scarborough and around the globe, health experts are emphasizing the critical need for routine childhood vaccinations. This push aligns with National Immunization Awareness Week (April 22-30), underscoring vaccines’ vital role in safeguarding public health. 

Dr. Peter Azzopardi, Corporate Chief and Medical Director of Paediatrics at Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is addressing the concerning drop-in vaccination rates exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Measles can range from a mild illness to very serious complications. We have historically seen low incidences due to strong vaccination coverage. However, we’re witnessing a troubling uptick in cases, spurred by declines in vaccination rates and recent exposures both internationally and within Canada,” he said. 

In Ontario, children are typically vaccinated against measles just after their first birthday and again between the ages of four and six, with these vaccines providing very long-term protection. Children achieve 97% protection from measles after two doses of vaccine. Despite this, the intended schedule has been disrupted due to the pandemic.  

“Many children have missed crucial doses, not just due to the logistical challenges posed by the pandemic, such as access to healthcare providers, but also due to increased vaccine hesitancy,” Dr. Azzopardi said. 

Measles is a very contagious viral infection, marked by symptoms like fever and a red rash that often begins on the face or behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body. It often includes eye redness and discharge, and parents might notice spots on the roofs of their children’s mouths. The disease is especially serious in unvaccinated individuals and can lead to severe complications. 

Dr. Azzopardi emphasized the necessity of checking and updating vaccination records.  

“Our immediate goal is to ensure every child in Ontario is up to date with their measles vaccinations, as well as other routine immunizations. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is crucial given the current risks, and all primary care providers in Ontario have access to it,” he stated. 

The resurgence of measles poses a significant public health threat, especially to unvaccinated individuals. Keeping vaccination schedules up to date is crucial for community health and preventing further outbreaks. 

  • SHN is proud to be home of the VaxFacts+ Clinic, one of the leading programs in answering our community’s questions about vaccines and supporting immunization. Book an appointment: 
  • The measles vaccine is available for adults and children at doctors’ offices. Toronto Public Health community clinics also offer the measles vaccine, including other school-based vaccines for school-aged children.