Student Vaccinations Imperative
This week, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is sending out notices to approximately 5,600 area students whose vaccination records are not up-to-date. These notices tell families that if vaccination records are not updated, or a valid exemption for medical, conscience or religious reasons is not given, students will be suspended from school starting in April.
Families who receive these notices are encouraged to follow these three steps:
· Don’t wait. Check your child’s immunization record for any missing vaccines. Go to www.ontario.ca/page/vaccines-children-school for a full listing of what is required.
· Vaccinate. See your health care provider or contact the Health Unit to get any missing vaccines.
· Update. Visit Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) (http://hkpr.icon.ehealthontario.ca) to easily update, manage, and track vaccination records online. For more information, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507, or visit www.hkpr.on.ca.
“We urge families who receive a Health Unit notice to take a moment and review their child’s vaccination record. Visiting the ICON website is the quickest and easiest way to update records to avoid any problems,” says Marianne Rock, a Health Unit manager in the Health Protection Division. “In many cases students have all their vaccines, but the records just need updating with the Health Unit.”
In Ontario, health units must enforce the Immunization of School Pupils Act. This law requires all students attending school to be fully immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chickenpox) and meningococcal disease. If any vaccine is missing, students can be suspended from school.
“While it is not the Health Unit’s intent to suspend students, there is a requirement for all students to be vaccinated,” Rock notes. “Vaccines are free, safe and effective, and help protect young people against very serious diseases.”
The Health Unit is aiming for a repeat of last year. In 2018, hundreds of suspension notices were issued to local students, but in the end, all vaccination records were updated.