Health Unit Backs Additional Vaccinations

The Middlesex-London Health Unit says it’s is firmly behind the province’s decision to add to the number of vaccinations children need to have before school starts up again in September.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Deb Matthews announced kids attending Ontario elementary and secondary schools this fall will have to provide proof of immunization for meningococcal disease and whooping cough. Children born after 2010 will also have to be vaccinated against chicken pox.

The current vaccination requirements cover tetanus, diphtheria, polio and mumps.

The health unit’s manager of vaccine preventable diseases Marlene Price says these are serious diseases, especially meningococcal disease.

“Meningococcal disease can cause infections in the brain and spinal cord. It can cause meningitis, and I think everyone is aware of how serious that can be. The meningococcal virus can also cause blood poisoning,” says Price.

But for the small percentage of parents who opt to not have their children vaccinated, they need not worry about their kids being turned away from school.

Price says exemptions still exist for those students.

“(Parents) are able to complete an exemption affidavit. It’s a legal document. They can file that with the health unit and then their children can attend school even though they are not immunized,” Price says. “But if there is an outbreak in the school, their child would be excluded from school. And that is for their own protection.”