The province announced a new measles immunization program to help parents make sure their child’s vaccines are up to date.

The program will make the vaccine available to children from kindergarten to grade 12 in schools and health centres.

The province has purchased a one year’s supply of the vaccine, costing approximately $3-million.

Andrew Gray, Northern Health Medicinal Health Officer said the program is in response to the increase in measles outbreak in the last five years.

“These imported cases are becoming increasingly frequent in BC, so we just want to make sure the population has the highest level of immunity possible to prevent any imported cases becoming outbreaks.”

The program is set to run from April to June before the school year ends.

Gray said the province would send out letters to all parents with children they do not have updated immunization records for.

The catch-up program is the first step in the government’s two-phase plan to educate people on the importance of immunizations. The second phase was announced earlier this year making reporting vaccination records mandatory for all schools.

“Our goal is to immunize as many people as possible before the end of the school year. The purpose, ultimately, is to reach an immunization rate of 95% as recommended,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

According to Northern Health, they only have immunization records for 80 percent of all children.

Health authorities will work with the school to notify parents for when and where measles immunization catch-up clinics will be taking place.