Possible third case of measles in Saint John tests negative
After a brief scare, the number of measles cases in the Saint John area remains at two.
New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health confirmed on Friday that the potential third case has been ruled a negative.
“This morning we received confirmation that the results of the lab test on the third potential case were negative. This means that this person does not have measles,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell.
The potential third case was reported by the New Brunswick Community College and a mass text alert was circulated to students and staff Thursday afternoon warning about the possible outbreak.
But the debate over immunization policy in the province rages on.
On Thursday, New Brunswick Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Dominic Cardy told reporters that he would like to see non-medical exemptions for vaccination removed from the Education Act.
“The power under the law is if someone has an exemption they are still, at this point, allowed to go to school. That’s the power under the act. I personally don’t agree with that, but that’s something which I can look at changing in the future,” Cardy said.
“I’m going to use every single power I have under the law to make sure that New Brunswick’s schools are safe places for kids. We have restrictions on peanut butter, on shellfish and other things, those are all reasonable and those are done because we as a province care about each other. It’s equally important that you be vaccinated against fatal diseases that can infect the students in you class.”
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The debate in New Brunswick mirrors a larger national conversation over mandatory vaccination. Currently, New Brunswick and Ontario are the only provinces to require proof of vaccination to enroll in the public school system.
Exemptions are granted in both provinces for medical reasons, but may also be granted for personal beliefs. Yet the process for each province in the latter case differs.
In Ontario parents must submit a notarized affidavit to “the medical officer of health of their local public health unit.” In New Brunswick the process is much easier. All a parent needs to do is sign a form to register their objection.
Cardy also said that the department is not currently aware of exactly how many exemptions have been granted, or even what vaccination rates in the public school system are.
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