Ontario Strengthening Requirements for School Vaccine Exemptions

immunizationrecordOntario introduced legislation today 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. “Protecting children from serious vaccine-preventable diseases in Ontario is a vital responsibility we must continue strengthening.  The amendments introduced today reflect this importance,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said.  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 This change, if passed, would make it easier for parents and reduce unnecessary suspensions due to out-of-date immunization records.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.