Do Manitobans need an extra dose of mumps vaccine? Doctor mulls option after outbreak hits 2,000 cases

Manitoba is on the tail end of a mumps outbreak that hit 2,000 people and as the whirl winds down, the province's medical officer of health thinks another dose of the vaccine might be necessary.

Despite a flare-up over the past 20 months, there were no major hospitalizations, Dr. Richard Rusk says

People typically get two vaccinations in their lifetime: The first at age one, and the second just before kindergarten, around age four. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Manitoba is on the tail end of a mumps outbreak that hit 2,000 people and as the whirl winds down, the province's medical officer of health thinks another dose of the vaccine might be necessary.

Dr. Richard Rusk, who is in charge of communicable disease control with Manitoba Public Health, also said the province looks to be entering "a new normal" with the presence of the disease.

Currently, people typically get two vaccinations in their lifetime: The first at age one, and the second just before kindergarten, around age four.

"We used to say that you were good for the rest of your life once you had those two shots, but here were are seeing people fully vaccinated getting sick," Rusk said.

"The question now is, do we need a third dose? That's something we need to consider."

The neck of a young child shows the characteristic swelling of mumps, due to enlargement of the salivary glands. (Manitoba Health)

The province will be sending a reminder to doctors in the coming weeks to be vigilant for mumps and to ask patients if they have had their shots. If people can't remember or there's no record, just get it done, Rusk said.

People who have had the mumps do not need to get vaccinated.

The current outbreak started in September 2016, but the number of new cases has dropped substantially in the past three months, he said.

"It's in a big time decline," Rusk said, then hesitated. "I should be careful about saying that. The last time I said it was declining we went on to get 800 more cases."

Before the outbreak, Manitoba recorded anywhere from zero to eight cases a year.

"Maybe the new normal now will be about 10-20 cases per year," Rusk said.

Despite the flare-up over the past 20 months, it's important to note there were no major hospitalizations, he said.

"That goes to show the vaccinations still worked. They just might not have been as effective as we'd expected they would be," Rusk said.

"So maybe we need that third dose or maybe it's more important when you had your last shot, not how many."

About the Author

Darren Bernhardt

Reporter/Editor

Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, first at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories and features. Story idea? Email: darren.bernhardt@cbc.ca