Montreal

Measles clinic set up in Boisbriand after 5 cases reported in Hasidic community

Three of the cases in the municipality about 20 kilometres north of Montreal were reported last week.

Public health authority believes disease was contracted during a visit to Brooklyn, N.Y.

Two children are vaccinated at a temporary measles clinic serving members of the Hasidic community in Boisbriand, Que. on Friday. (Radio-Canada)

Public health authorities have set up a temporary measles clinic for the Hasidic Jewish community in Boisbriand, Que. after five cases of the virus were reported there this summer.

Dr. Éric Goyer, director of public health for the Laurentians region, said these were the region's first cases of measles since 2011.

Three of the cases in the municipality about 20 kilometres north of Montreal were reported last week. The province has seen a spike in measles cases this year, including several cases in Montreal and Laval.

While Goyer said the community of Kiryas Tosh does not have vaccination rates lower than the general population, the closeness of the community, and their large families, could contribute to the spread of the virus.

"I think that the best approach is one of collaboration with the members of the community," said Dr. Éric Goyer, adding that community leaders support vaccination.

Dr. Éric Goyer, the director of public health for the Laurentians region, says collaborating with the community is essential to ensuring everyone is protected from the virus. (Radio-Canada)

Issac Weis, who helps with security and public safety in the community of about 3,000, said they have been writing to and calling residents to let them know about the clinic.

He said above all else, health is sacred.

"It's a duty to do whatever the doctors tell you to do," he said.

"It's a very little voice, the anti-vaxxers."

He said that through conversation, he's been able to ease the minds of the minority that is worried about the unfounded risk of side effects from the vaccine. 

Those who refuse to be vaccinated will have to stay home until the "crisis is contained," he said.

Issac Weis says the community is working hard to contain the spread of measles. (Radio-Canada)

Authorities believe that an unvaccinated member of the community first contracted the virus while visiting Brooklyn, N.Y.

At the clinic, the medical records of patients are checked, and if there is doubt over their immunization to measles, they are offered a vaccine.

The clinic had seen about 300 patients and vaccinated about 80 this week.

Meshilem Lieberman brought his two children to the clinic on Friday. He said it was worth the effort, despite the tears.

"It wasn't very easy with the kids … but I feel I did the right thing," he said.

Meshilem Lieberman said he was happy that he brought his children in to be vaccinated against measles. (Radio-Canada)

He's happy that the clinic was set up inside the community, which makes it easier for them to catch up on their shots.

He said they had tried to vaccinate their older son, but they had to cancel more than once when he came down with a fever.

"We had the opportunity to have it local, and it was way easier for us," he said.

"I'm very glad I did it."

The clinic will continue to operate in the community next week.

With reporting by Radio-Canada's Davide Gentile

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