Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Measles Vaccine Shortages Heighten Concerns Amid Rising Cases in Canada

As measles cases surge in Canada, vaccine manufacturers grapple with shortages. With approximately 40 confirmed cases this year and a concerning decline in vaccination rates, Heather Yourex-West delves into the escalating fears of a measles outbreak, particularly as families embark on March break travels. The resurgence of other preventable diseases adds to the alarm.

Two major suppliers of measles vaccines, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), have flagged shortages on Canada’s drug shortage website. The dwindling doses of their MMR vaccines, vital for measles, mumps, and rubella immunization, are primarily reserved for public health programs due to a surge in demand.

Both companies attribute the shortage to increased demand. Merck’s remaining doses of MMR II vaccine are allocated for public immunization, while GSK’s Priorix shot faces unavailability in the private market.

Merck anticipates the shortage to persist, potentially impacting individuals seeking additional doses before traveling. This comes amidst a backdrop of escalating measles spread across the country. Despite Canada declaring measles eradicated in 1998, recent reports from Public Health Ontario indicate a rise in cases compared to last year, with Quebec reporting 29 cases as of March 20, alongside infections in other provinces like Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Measles, highly contagious and potentially fatal, underscores the urgency of vaccination. Health Canada emphasizes the significance of two vaccine doses for nearly 100% efficacy. The World Health Organization (WHO) echoes this urgency, especially given the global surge in measles outbreaks.

While GlaxoSmithKline has not commented on the shortages, Merck assures they are actively addressing the issue to ensure consistent vaccine supply. Health Canada’s response remains pending, as the nation grapples with the dual challenges of vaccine shortages and rising measles cases. ( Courtesy-with files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield, Gabby Rodrigues, Reuters’ Jennifer Rigby and The Associated Press )

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