05/02/2014 01:13 EDT | Updated 07/02/2014 05:59 EDT

Measles vaccines: should they be mandatory?

With Alberta in the grips of a measles outbreak, there are questions about whether the province should make vaccines and quarantines mandatory.

“Back in the early 1900’s, about one in every five houses in Canada had a picture of a dead kid on the mantle,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist with University of Alberta.

Saxinger told Edmonton AM’s John Archer that while Alberta’s approach of voluntary vaccinations and quarantines is a common one, places with stricter rules during outbreaks generally fare much better.

“That early period of measles where you have an infectious virus but might be showing very minimal signs of disease is a very bad one for getting out and about.”

She said the questions of mandatory prevention and quarantines are ones that should be asked on a case-by-case basis. For diseases like measles, she says she is seeing a lot of support among both doctors and the public for mandatory vaccines -- something she credits to a greater push to assure people about the low risks associated with vaccines.

“I think the anti-vaccine movement actually kind of was running with the ball more effectively for quite a long time, but now people are actually becoming more vocal about being pro-vaccine, where before it was the thing that everyone did.