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Measles
Immunization


Page last updated/reviewed October 3,  2019

Measles is a very serious contagious disease that was once common during childhood. It is easily spread through the air (by sneezing or coughing) and by direct contact with someone who is infected. It can cause serious complications and even death. It is the leading cause of death in children worldwide from a vaccine-preventable disease. Before widespread immunization, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, in 2017 there were 110,000 measles deaths globally, mostly among children under the age of five. During 2000 – 2017, measles immunization prevented an estimated 21.1 million deaths.

Measles immunization is very effective at protecting children and adults against infection and is the best way to reduce the risk of disease. Any unprotected individuals (persons who have not been immunized or do not have evidence of immunity) can become infected with measles.

Although local cases of measles in Canada do not occur frequently, measles is still common in other parts of the world and unprotected travellers can bring measles into Canada. This could result in local outbreaks, especially where immunization rates are low.

Measles Immunization Recommendations

AHS continues to advise all Albertans to ensure they are up to date on their immunizations, including measles vaccine.

Measles-containing vaccine is available, free of charge, through Alberta’s publicly-funded immunization program for:

  • All Albertans born in or after 1970. These individuals require two documented doses of measles-containing vaccine, to be protected.
  • Children in Alberta. Children are recommended to receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine, administered at 12 months of age and at four years of age.
  • Health care workers, regardless of year of birth, who are not immune to measles. These individuals require two documented doses of measles-containing vaccine, to be protected.
  • Post-secondary students born before 1970 who are not immune to measles. These individuals require one documented dose of measles-containing vaccine, to be protected.

Immunization Recommendations for Travel

Additional immunization recommendations for individuals who are travelling in North America (includes Canada, USA and Mexico) to destinations in which measles outbreaks are ongoing or travelling outside of North America – Refer to Travel Advisories below:

  • Infants six months of age to less than 12 months of age, are eligible to receive an early dose of measles-containing vaccine.
    • Infants who receive an additional early dose of measles-containing vaccine due to outbreak must still receive both routinely recommended doses of measles-containing vaccine (at 12 months of age and at four years of age) to be protected against measles.
  • Children 13 months up to 4 years of age are eligible to receive their second dose of measles-containing vaccine prior to travel.
  • Children 4 years to 17 years of age should have two doses of measles-containing vaccine.
  • Adults born in 1970 or later who do not have documented evidence of receiving a measles-containing vaccine, or laboratory evidence of measles immunity, or a history of laboratory confirmed measles disease should receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine.
  • Adults born before 1970 may be eligible to receive one dose of measles-containing vaccine.

NOTE: Individuals who have already received two doses of measles-containing vaccine do not need additional doses, as these two doses have provided the required protection against measles.

Travel Advisories for North America (includes Canada, USA and Mexico)

The destinations identified in which measles outbreaks are ongoing, to where the additional immunization recommendations for travel would apply, include:

No destinations are identified as having ongoing measles outbreaks at this time.

Travel Advisories for outside of North America

The additional immunization recommendations for travel apply to all individuals travelling outside of North America. Additional information can be found at:

The measles situation is being constantly evaluated using multiple criteria, there may be other places experiencing cases of measles that do not fit the criteria for expanded recommendations. If additional sites are identified that do fit the criteria this information will be added to the Travel Advisories.