Health officials in Toronto have submitted a proposal to the Ontario government, asking that the province start covering the cost of travel vaccines.

Toronto Public Health says travel vaccines should be covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP), to protect travellers and prevent outbreaks in Canada when unvaccinated travellers return home.

The 10 most recent cases of measles in Toronto came from abroad,” health experts say, costing much more to treat than vaccinations would have.

“The cost of following up on those 10 cases was $500,000 to Toronto Public Health alone,” Dr. Vinita Dubey of Toronto Public Health.

Toronto Public Health hasn’t calculated the exact amount it would cost the province to cover travel vaccines, Dubey said. Instead, the Ontario government should start by paying for travel vaccine consultations for would-be travellers.

“Measles, mumps, and rubella are already publically funded, so there is no additional cost for those vaccines,” she said, “It’s really just looking at what the additional cost would be for the province compared to money spent afterwards on these outbreaks caused by people bringing back infections.”

Right now, travellers have to pay for their own vaccinations when travelling. The immunizations can cost hundreds of dollars.

Toronto Public Health is urging all travellers, regardless of cost, to visit a travel clinic before going abroad in order to protect themselves and other Canadians.

It is not yet clear when the province will respond to Toronto Public Health’s proposal.

With a report from Pauline Chan