For parents and guardians who may be unsure whose responsibility it is to update a child’s immunization records with the local public health unit, the answer is: yours.
“It’s always been the responsibility of parents and guardians to do that, and it still is,” York Region public health spokesperson Denise Graham said.
The seeds of confusion may have been sown when the former Liberal government changed the vaccination reporting rule, set to take effect this past July 1, which would have required doctors to notify public health units about a child’s recent shots.
However, strong opposition from Ontario’s medical community seemingly persuaded the incoming Progressive Conservative government to shelve that idea.
“In general, parents and guardians have always been supportive of the immunization reporting requirements,” Graham said. “Once the immunization information is in, we can review it and let parents know when the next vaccination is due, and keep the child protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Out-of-date immunization records can also carry consequences such as a suspension from school until either shots are received or missing information is supplied.
Since the 2015-16 school year, York’s public health unit has worked to ensure students aged between seven and 17 in the public, Catholic and French school boards had up-to-date immunization information on file. This year, that outreach expanded to include for the first time private school students in the region.
Of the almost 37,000 student immunization records studied, 65 per cent had out-of-date or missing information, the health unit reports. An immunization campaign consisting of information letters, additional immunization clinics and a dedicated helpline helped bring almost 99 per cent of students in line with provincial vaccination requirements.
Only 649 students, or 2.7 per cent, were suspended across all school groups, with the majority of those suspended back in class within a day or two, according to public health unit statistics released in August 2018.
All children attending school or a licensed child care facility in York Region are required to be immunized against certain vaccine-preventable diseases, noted below, unless a valid exemption is provided.
Immunizations are mandatory for the following:
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Meningococcal disease
- Varicella (chickenpox) (for students born on or after 2010)
Keeping children’s records up-to-date is especially important in the event of an infectious disease outbreak, Graham said, adding public health staff can act quickly to identify students who may be at risk.
You can update your child’s immunization record online, any time of the day or night here or call 1-877-464-9675, ext. 73456.
For more information on free immunization clinics, flu shots and more visit here