We had a measles scare on Vancouver Island a few weeks back and now the province has launched a measles catch-up program, giving British Columbians three months to get one or both doses.

The program is specifically geared toward ensuring children have protection against the highly infectious measles disease that is spread through the air and can result in pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and even death.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said success depends on individual vaccinations against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).

“Ultimately, the success of any immunization system depends on individual children being immunized and this will create that opportunity to ensure that everyone in British Columbia, in these three months, has the opportunity to ensure that their children are up-to-date in their vaccinations,” said Dix.

This catch-up program runs from April to June and Dix said the next step is the mandatory reporting of vaccination status, coming to BC schools this fall.

Dix said the goal is to reach an immunization rate of 95 percent.

“It’s our expectation, as part of this campaign, that every child whose not immunized in BC, or under-immunized will have the opportunity to be immunized,” said Dix. “That opportunity will be created across British Columbia and the goal of the program is to immunize as many people as possible, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, who have not previously been immunized against measles and to provide a second dose for those who may not have received both doses.”

Deputy Provincial Health Officer Doctor Brian Emerson said very few British Columbians are against all vaccinations, adding that other factors play a role in immunization rates in BC being lower than they should be.

Vancouver Coastal Health said people born prior to 1970 are likely immune to measles.