By Bevan Hamilton 
BELLEVILLE – The message from Dr. Richard Schabas has remained the same over the past couple of months since measles came back into the spotlight : it’s not a problem in this area.
“There is nothing substantial to worry about,” Schabas, the medical officer of health for the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit , told the board of health on Wednesday.
There have been no recent measles cases in the region covered by the health unit, he said. In fact, he added, he can’t remember any cases in the past 10 years.
“Measles used to be much more common. This is a sign of how far we’ve come” when it comes to getting children vaccinated, Schabas said.
He described measles as one of the most infectious diseases that exist, making it hard to control. But if you’ve been immunized, there is no cause for concern, he said.
Bill Sherlock, manager of clinic services for the health unit, echoed Schabas’s statement.
“If you have been immunized, you are 10 times more likely to win the lottery than to get measles,” Sherlock said.
There is a 95- to 99-per-cent immunization rate in this region, he said.
The health unit has had an uptake in families coming in for shots recently due to the publicity around measles and the measles vaccine, Sherlock said.
Schabas said that while there has always been a provision in Ontario  for children to be exempted from getting the vaccine for religious or conscientious reasons, the number of exemptions has not been increasing. He showed a chart showing that Ontario’s exemption numbers have remained at around two per cent since 2011.
“Anti-vaccination isn’t a trend. The notion that it is just isn’t supported by the numbers.”
Ontario has had 19 reported cases of measles this year, putting it on pace to surpass last year’s 22 cases, Sherlock said.