Requirements for school vaccines exemptions to be strengthened

vaccinesOntario on Thursday introduced legislation that would, if passed, strengthen the requirements to obtain exemptions for mandatory school vaccines and improve how these vaccines are reported.

The amendments to the Immunization of School Pupils Act would require parents and guardians who are considering not immunizing their children for non-medical reasons to participate in an education session delivered by their local public health unit. Parents or guardians would have to complete this session before obtaining a vaccine exemption.

The Immunization of School Pupils Act would also be amended to require health care providers to report any vaccines they administer to children and youth–and that are needed to attend school in Ontario–to their local public health unit directly. Currently, parents are responsible for reporting their children’s immunization records, or “yellow card,” to their own local public health unit. This change, if passed, would make it easier for parents and reduce unnecessary suspensions due to out-of-date immunization records.

Strengthening the exemption and reporting requirements for school vaccines is part of Immunization 2020–Ontario’s five year strategy to improve its publicly-funded immunization program. This supports the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which is providing patients with faster access to the right care, better home and community care, the information they need to stay healthy and a health care system that’s sustainable for generations to come.

  • Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, children must have proof of immunization against certain diseases to attend school in Ontario unless they have a valid exemption. These diseases include diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), meningococcal disease, and for children born in 2010 or later, varicella (chickenpox).
  • Details on the education sessions for those considering non-medical exemptions to school vaccine requirements will be determined through consultations with public health units and other stakeholders.
  • Student immunization records in Ontario are stored on an electronic database. Public health units use this information to support their immunization programs and requirements under the Immunization of School Pupils Act.
  • Parents should contact their local public health unit if they are unsure whether their child’s immunization records have been reported. – CINEWS

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