As part of National Immunization Awareness Week, which runs April 25th to the 29th, Ontario’s public health doctor is reminding parents to keep their children’s vaccinations current.
“Delaying or refusing certain vaccines increases the risk of disease,” says Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“Most vaccines need more than one dose over time to produce full protection. That’s why it’s important to follow the immunization schedule to ensure the best protection.”
Children must have proof of immunization against certain diseases to attend school in Ontario, unless they have a valid exemption. Parents are required to provide records of their child’s immunization to their local public health unit. They must also update the records when a child receives additional doses of vaccine.
Last December the province announced its intention to introduce changes to the Immunization of School Pupils Act that, if passed, would include stronger requirements for non-medical vaccine exemptions.
Under the proposed changes, parents and guardians seeking a non-medical exemption for their child would need to participate in an education session provided by their local public health unit.
Children who are unimmunized because they are exempt are at an increased risk of disease, and may be removed from school during a disease outbreak.
“If a child is not immunized and comes into contact with a vaccine preventable disease, they may get sick and potentially experience serious complications,” says Dr. Williams.
The diseases that children must have proof of immunization against to attend school are:
- Meningococcal disease
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Chickenpox (varicella) – required for children born in 2010 or later
More information about Ontario’s publicly funded immunization program and school immunization requirements can be found at ontario.ca/vaccines. Find your local public health unit at ontario.ca/healthcareoptions.