N.B. only providing measles vaccine to those most vulnerable during outbreak
It was a contentious issue that dominated Question Period during the daily sitting at the New Brunswick Legislature Thursday.
The Opposition is asking the Higgs government to release data as to how much MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine the province has on hand as the province declares an outbreak with 11 confirmed measles cases.
“It’s the responsibility of the Minister to be in the house answering questions and being able to reassure the population of this province,” explains Liberal health critic JC D’Amours. “It’s really a pandemic situation, or the risk of a pandemic situation.
“It’s very serious.”
READ MORE: What to do if you think you have measles
Opposition members have pointed to the absence of the province’s health minister during the outbreak inside and outside of the house, as the province hosts emergency vaccination clinics in the Kennebacasis area following eight confirmed measles cases, linked to the Kennebacasis Valley High School. The vaccine is being offered to staff and students there but isn’t easily accessible to those who aren’t listed as in the vulnerable sector.
“We are saying to the population that we have the vaccine, but when they go to see pharmacist they have none,” explains D’Amours, who wants the province to release data stating how much vaccine it has on hand.
“I’m not going to order a bunch of physicians who are dealing with a measles outbreak to stop their work and go count vials because somebody wants a number,” says Health Minister Ted Flemming.
“It’s a silly thing to do — it’s nonsense.”
WATCH: (May 29, 2019) N.B. health officials confirm 11 cases of measles
According to Flemming, the department of health has access to as much of the vaccine as it needs, and at this point in time, it’s following an emergency protocol. Part of that is if you think you’ve contracted measles, stay home.
“If you isolate, contain, treat, vaccinate, make sure it doesn’t spread to the herd to use the expression, then over time will abate,” says Flemming.
“That is the medical protocol for treating a situation like this, period.”
Once the outbreak is declared over, the Green Party says the province needs to take a hard look at how the department responded and what changes need to be made moving forward.
“Looking at how hard everyone is having to work to respond to the measles outbreak, what might happen if we had a SARS outbreak?” adds Green Party leader David Coon. “The system needs to be easy, easy to make sure children get vaccinated — as easy as pie.”
Most people are protected from measles infection from two separate doses of vaccine. Anyone with concerns they may have contracted measles is being told to call 811.
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