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Canada faces measles vaccine shortage due to rising case numbers and demand

Canada faces measles vaccine shortage due to rising case numbers and demand


Canada is facing a measles vaccine shortage due to rising cases and increased demand both domestically and around the world.

Remaining doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine are being reserved for the public immunization program, according to a report posted by two Canadian suppliers on Health Canada's drug shortages website. That's what it means.

Merck Canada and GSK have “advised Health Canada that they are fully able to meet these demands.” [routine childhood immunization] “The program is managed by each province and territory,” said an email from a Health Canada spokesperson.

But people who don't qualify for publicly funded vaccines and are hoping to get their shots through travel clinics or pharmacies are likely to be out of luck, at least for the next month.

An email from Health Canada to CBC News said the private market for measles vaccines “represents a very small proportion of total demand.”

Merck has reported April 19 as the expected end date for the private market shortage of its MMR II vaccine. Meanwhile, GSK is not supplying the PRIORIX vaccine to the private market, but posted the shortage report to “proactively indicate that we are unable to fulfill commercial orders,” a spokesperson said.

Unable to follow NB public health advice

April 19 will be too late for Debra McKale, who lives in Barts Corner, near Fredericton. She leaves for Morocco that day.

Mr. McKale considered getting vaccinated after New Brunswick Public Health recommended last week that: People born before 1970 should get the measles vaccine if they travel outside the country.

Although it is estimated that most adults born before 1970 have developed immunity from past exposure to the measles virus, public health authorities recommend at least one measles vaccination before traveling abroad as a precaution. We recommend that you receive the

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause serious complications including serious illness, hearing loss, brain damage, and even death.

Bare back of a young child covered with red rashes.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it can take up to 21 days after exposure to the virus for symptoms to appear, and infected people can spread the virus to others before they develop symptoms. (CBC)

The virus is transmitted through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, sneezes, or speaks, or through direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions.

there is Measles cases soar in Europe and Infections are increasing across North AmericaThis is partly due to a decline in routine vaccinations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 31 measles cases have been reported across Canada so far this year, according to CBC News, which compiles provincial and territorial numbers released by public health teams. There is a high possibility of a “big outbreak” If a disease occurs in an area with low vaccination coverage, dozens to thousands of people can be infected.

New Brunswick Health Ministry spokesperson Sean Hatchard said most measles cases in Canada were acquired through international travel. “Therefore, the greatest risk of exposure to measles is from international travelers who may visit countries where measles is endemic.”

Portrait of a smiling woman wearing glasses, hat and fuchsia top in the Amazon rainforest.
Debra McKale, pictured during a trip to Ecuador last year, is heading to Morocco next month and wants to get a measles vaccine before she leaves. (Teri Young)

Ms McKail, who was born in 1958, wanted to follow the advice of public health authorities, but when she called Fredericton pharmacies offering travel vaccinesWhen she asked, she was told, “They couldn't administer the vaccine to me because there was a shortage of vaccines and they only give it to children.''

McKail then called Public Health and the woman she spoke to said she was unaware of the shortage.

“I thought it was interesting that the public health department didn't recognize that. Even though the public health department was encouraging people my age to get vaccinated, there was a shortage afterwards. “It turned out that I couldn't get vaccinated,” she said.

The Department of Public Health did not respond to requests for comment.

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McKail contacted other local pharmacies, but they were also unable to get the vaccine.

She said she plans to keep trying before the trip, but isn't too worried after a conversation with her 94-year-old mother, who lives in Victoria.

“She still has the parenting book for me and my siblings, and she looked at my book and it looks like my brother Michael got measles when he was 9 years old. And she said, ' I look at your baby book and it looks like you got the measles when you were 19' at the same time. So I think I was about 5. So…I'm not too worried.”

“Quite a few requests”

Andrew Drover, pharmacist owner of Harrisville Pharmacy in Moncton, said pharmacists haven't received much information about the prevalence of measles in other countries or the possibility of contracting measles while traveling, but McKail said He said he has no intention of discouraging people like him from traveling. at this point.

“As far as I know, that's not the case.” [measles] With the pandemic going on right now, I want to…make sure they are aware of the symptoms of measles so that if they develop such symptoms, they can seek immediate medical attention. “He said.

Measles usually begins with cold-like symptoms such as fever, cough, red eyes, watery eyes, and runny nose.

A rash that looks like small red spots appears about 3 to 7 days after symptoms begin. It usually starts in the head/neck and spreads to the body, arms, and legs.

Portrait of a man in a white coat at the pharmacy.
Andrew Drover, born in 1978 and pharmacist owner of Harrisville Pharmacy in Moncton, recently traveled abroad and did not receive a measles vaccine before his departure, but received a second vaccination while a pharmacy student. He said he believes he has been vaccinated. (Alexandre Silverman/CBC)

Drover has received “quite a few requests” for the measles vaccine in recent weeks.

He had it in stock and had ordered some before it ran out, but it has since run out and no more are available now.

“If you are not eligible for a public vaccination, we recommend trying other pharmacies or travel clinics. There are several travel clinics, one of which you can try. “Maybe. We might have it in stock. We already know they can use it,” he said.

“If they are eligible for publicly funded treatment, we will refer them directly to a public health agency and schedule an appointment to go there.”

Infants became eligible for vaccination in NB

As part of New Brunswick's regular schedule, children can receive two consecutive measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) combination vaccines at 12 and 18 months of age.

Children aged six to 11 months traveling outside of Canada can now receive a single dose of the MMR vaccine based on new eligibility criteria, says Acting Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Ariful Rahman. He advised all health care providers in a March 15 letter. Memo, obtained by CBC News.

“If MMR was administered before 12 months of age, the child will require two doses of MMRV after 12 months of age (regular schedule at 12 and 18 months),” the report states. says.

As part of New Brunswick's regular schedule, adults born after 1970 who have not previously received two doses of MMR will receive two doses of MMR or MMRV vaccine (one month apart) or have already received two doses of MMR or MMRV vaccine. In this case, you can receive one vaccination. Last dose in childhood.

Doses for adults born before 1970 are not currently publicly funded. It costs about $140.

Health officials say fully vaccinated people have nearly 100 percent protection.

Working to address shortages

“If patients or caregivers have concerns about access or supply of a particular vaccine, they should discuss treatment options with their doctor,” a Health Canada spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Health Canada said in an email that it is working closely with manufacturers, the Public Health Agency of Canada, provinces and territories and stakeholders across the health-care system to “monitor supply status.”

“The Department is doing everything it can to prevent shortages where possible and to mitigate the impact and assist in resolving shortages when they occur.”

Models show that measles outbreaks are expected unless vaccination rates improve

Quebec has launched measles vaccination clinics as authorities fear a major outbreak could put thousands of children at risk of severe illness or death. Modeling shows that the number of confirmed cases in Canada in 2024 is already higher than the total number in 2023, and modeling suggests the virus could quickly get out of control unless vaccination rates increase.

Merck Canada said an increase in measles cases both domestically and internationally has increased demand for the MMR vaccine, resulting in a recently declared shortage.

“We are working diligently with all stakeholders, including state and federal health officials, to ensure a timely and stable supply of the MMR® II vaccine,” an anonymous spokesperson said in an emailed statement. Ta.

“Our priorities remain firmly focused on ensuring we can get this vaccine to those who need it most.”

Similarly, GSK spokesperson Rita Moutinho said the temporary shortage was the result of an increase in measles cases around the world and increased interest in the MMR vaccine.

“We continue to meet public market demand for PRIORIX, and current PRIORIX supply will be used to fulfill existing contracts in Canada in 2024,” he said in an email.




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