Quebec rushes to vaccinate against measles in Joliette
Three students submitted vaccination refusal forms signed by their parents
Public health officials in Quebec's Lanaudière region, where a measles outbreak has infected 119 people, got a vaccination campaign underway at a local school after learning that an infected child visited it recently.
School and health officials said at a news conference late Thursday afternoon that 93 of the 114 unprotected students at École Intégrée de St-Pierre in Joliette, about 75 kilometres north of Montreal, have now been vaccinated.
The remaining 21 students are forbidden from attending school until further notice.
“We got 3 refusal forms signed by parents,” said Anne-Marie Blanchard, director of public health in the Lanaudière region.
The other 18 students were either absent from school today or did not bring in a signed consent or refusal form.
“The parents of these 18 children will be contacted by the school,” Blanchard said, adding that parents who did not sign a consent form can still have their children vaccinated at their local CLSC. The children can return to school once they have been immunized.
The school’s staff members are all protected against the measles.
On Wednesday, it was discovered that a child infected with measles attended the school on Feb. 27.
All staff and students have had their vaccination records checked, and health authorities have begun contacting those with incomplete or no measles immunization.
École Intégrée de St-Pierre has children between the ages of four and 12.
Outbreak began with eugenics community
The ongoing measles outbreak in the Lanaudière region has so far infected 119 people.
The outbreak began after two local families returned from Disneyland in early February, where they contracted the disease.
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At least one of the two families who went to Disneyland belongs to the Esprit-Saint eugenics community just outside of Joliette.
A member of the Esprit-Saint Mission told CBC News reporter Thomas Daigle that vaccinations are against the community's beliefs and that their prophet warns them vaccines result in illness. The member confirmed the first cases of measles in the region originated with the community.
The Esprit-Saint eugenics group was founded by Eugène Richer Dit La Flèche in 1913. The community purports to live by and work toward spreading the message of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
A former member of the community said it believes vaccines compromise people's immune systems, and that they feel protected by the spirit of Dit La Flèche, who died in 1925.
Public health officials said Wednesday they believe the number of infections will continue to climb.