Province to expand immunization program (07/07/06)

NB 881

July 6, 2007

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The publicly-funded vaccination program to protect against mumps, measles and rubella will be expanded this year to Grade 12 students as well as health care workers employed by the Regional Health Authorities, Health Minister Michael Murphy announced today.

The vaccination program for Grade 12 students will begin this fall and will continue for six years. This represents an investment of $1.05 million.

The program for health care workers will be for one year, and will target employees born in 1970 or later and who have not previously received two doses of vaccine against mumps. The cost is estimated at $73,000.

"Given the recent cases of mumps in our province and in neighbouring provinces, and the occurrence of sporadic outbreaks of measles, such as is now taking place in the Montreal region, Public Health has recommended we provide additional protection to those groups deemed most at risk," Murphy said. "This is why we have targeted health care workers and young people who, for the most part, would have received only one dose of vaccine to protect against mumps, measles and rubella."

New Brunswick has been providing a publicly-funded vaccine that protects against mumps, measles and rubella since 1977. In 1997, the province moved to a two-dose program in which infants are vaccinated at 12 and 18 months of age.

Dr. Wayne MacDonald, New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer of Health, said the catch-up vaccination program for Grade 12 students will provide added protection for young people of an age that they would likely have received only one dose of the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine.

"After six years, this expanded program will have closed the gap between young people who received one dose and those who, beginning in 1997, received two doses of vaccine," MacDonald said. "This is important given the recent cases of mumps in this region and measles cases being reported in Quebec."

A second dose of measles vaccine for those born in 1970 or later is recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for those who are at greatest risk, which includes health care workers and students attending post-secondary institutions. Targeting students in Grade 12 with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine will provide those young people with added protection as they are about to enter the post-secondary education setting, said MacDonald.

There have been more than 100 cases of mumps reported in New Brunswick, mainly in the Saint John area, since January.

Mumps can affect people of any age who have not previously had the disease or been immunized. People born before 1970 likely had mumps disease as a child and are generally considered not susceptible to mumps. In adults, mumps can lead to more serious conditions.

Common symptoms include fever, and swollen and tender glands at the angle of the jaw.

Anyone diagnosed with mumps or who suspects they may have mumps should not go to school or work until they have seen a doctor.

What is Mumps?


MEDIA CONTACT: Johanne LeBlanc, communications, Health and Wellness, 506-457-3513.