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More probable measles cases in unimmunized children in Saskatchewan

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REGINA - Health officials in Saskatchewan are urging parents to have their children vaccinated after word of three probable measles cases in unimmunized youngsters.

The Prairie North Health Region, which covers the cities of Lloydminster and North Battleford, is reporting the probable illnesses in addition to one confirmed case in an unimmunized child.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says Saskatchewan's current childhood vaccination rate is not high enough to prevent outbreaks.

"The biggest thing that can prevent outbreaks of measles is up-to-date immunizations in children," Shahab said at a news conference Thursday.

He said parents need to ensure their children have two doses of measles vaccine by age two.

Saskatchewan Health reports 89 per cent of children have had their first measles vaccination by the age of two and 75 per cent of children have had their second dose by that time.

"One dose gives 95 per cent protection and two doses gives 99 per cent protection," Shahab explained. "So if there are children in a day care and everyone just got one dose ... that day care will still have an outbreak."

Children usually get the first vaccine when they're a year old, but Shahab said it can be given earlier if kids are travelling to Alberta where a measles outbreak has been declared.

"That is now possible that if you're (going) to Alberta you can get an earlier dose ... if you have a child aged six to 12 months."

Saskatchewan has reported 12 confirmed and three probable cases this year.

— With files from CJME

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