As cases of measles are increasing in parts of Canada and around the world, Manitobans are reminded that staying up to date on their vaccinations is one of the most important ways to prevent and reduce the risk of measles and other serious illnesses. 

Measles is very contagious, says Dr. Mahmoud Khodaveisi, Medical Officer of Health for Southern Health-Santé Sud. 

The most recognized symptom of measles is a red, blotchy rash, which often begins on the face and spreads down the body. Other common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, drowsiness, irritability and red eyes. Measles is a serious illness, especially for young children, and can result in lung and brain infections and other conditions that lead to serious complications or death. 

Although there have been no recent confirmed cases of measles in our province since 2019, there is increasing concern as the number of cases are rising in Canada and around the world. 

Dr. Khodaveisi says that before the vaccine was available, measles was a significant cause of childhood illness, and as a result, people born before 1970 are considered immune to measles as they were likely exposed growing up. 

As part of Manitoba’s routine immunization schedule, children can receive two doses of a vaccine that protects against measles, first at 12 months and again between the ages of four and six. Together, these doses provide 97 per cent protection against measles. 

The province reports that the most recent data available shows that about 80 per cent of children in Manitoba have received one dose of the vaccine that protects against measles by age two. Nearly 75 per cent of children have received two doses of the vaccine by age seven and this rate increases to over 88 per cent by the age of 17. 

The province has sent information out about measles to health-care providers. 

Measles is a reportable disease, meaning public health must be informed about cases by laboratories and health-care providers. Once a case is reported, public health will launch an investigation. This includes identifying close contacts, offering vaccination where appropriate and notifying the public of relevant exposures if needed. 

Manitoba’s immunization registry was established in 1988, so records for anyone who has received immunizations since then should be contained in the registry. 

If you are not sure if you or your children have been vaccinated, immunization records can be requested online at Alternatively, you can contact your local public health office or contact your health-care provider.


-With files from Corny Rempel.