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For the latest information regarding measles in VCH, please click here.

  • In B.C., measles vaccine is given as a series of two doses. The first dose is given as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at a child’s first birthday and the second dose is given around the time of starting school as the measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine.
  • Babies as young as six months should get vaccinated against measles before travelling to countries where measles is spreading. Children between the ages of 12 months and four years can also get their second dose before travelling internationally.
  • Adults may already have protection from childhood vaccination or from having measles before. Measles vaccines are typically not needed for those born before 1970 as most people in that age group have immunity to measles from a prior infection, before vaccination was widely available. However, before international travel, adults should ensure they have received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine if they were born in 1970 or later. 
  • For information on how to access immunization records please click the link below.
    Immunization records
  • Vaccine appointments can be booked at local pharmacies for individuals ages 4 and older, and is also available at walk-in-clinics and many primary care offices. Please call ahead to check on vaccine availability.
    Pharmacies offering vaccines
  • People who are eligible can book an appointment online at their local Public Health Unit.
    Public Health Units

Signs and symptoms of the measles

After someone catches the measles virus, symptoms can start as soon as seven days, and up to 21 days, after a person is infected with the virus.

Signs and symptoms of measles include:

  • fever of 38.5°C or higher, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes that are often sensitive to light,
  • a rash, which starts first on the face and neck, and spreads to the chest, arms and legs, and lasts about 4 to 7 days.
  • there may also be small white spots inside the mouth
  • young children may also develop diarrhea or an ear infection.

How measles spreads

Measles is very contagious and spreads easily.

When an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes, the virus spreads through the air. The measles virus can survive in small droplets in the air for several hours. You can become infected when you breathe in these droplets or touch objects contaminated with the virus. The airborne spread of measles virus makes the disease very contagious. Sharing food, drinks or cigarettes, or kissing someone who has the virus can also put you at risk.

Immunization for the measles

Vaccinations are recommended to any adult or child over one year old with uncertain immunization or disease history. If you were born in 1970 or later and have received less than two doses of measles-containing vaccine, you are recommended to update your protection. The vaccines are free as part of routine childhood immunizations and to others needing protection against measles.

Vancouver Coastal Health offers the measles vaccine by appointment at VCH Immunization ClinicsMany primary care, walk-in clinics and pharmacies carry the measles vaccine. Please call ahead to make sure the vaccine is available before you visit. 

The MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) lasts for a lifetime. Two doses of measles vaccine are 99 per cent effective at preventing measles. One dose of vaccine is 95 per cent effective.

  • Children in B.C. born in or after 1994 routinely receive two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR), one at 12 months, then again before they start kindergarten. If they are up-to-date with their immunizations, these individuals should be protected against measles.
  • If you were born before 1994 or grew up outside of B.C., you may have received only one dose of the vaccine and require a second dose.
  • If you were born before 1970, you are likely to be immune to measles. However, if you aren’t sure if you have ever had the infection, an MMR vaccine is safe and recommended.
  • Anyone who has ever had the infection does not need to be immunized.

Measles vaccine (MMR) is not recommended for people who are pregnant

The MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) is a live vaccine and therefore it is not recommended that pregnant people be vaccinated for measles until after they give birth.  However, it is recommended that everyone within the same household be up to date on vaccinations to protect you and your baby lowering the risk of infection.

Measles resources

More about immunization

Immunization records

Immunization for infants and toddlers

Diseases to report