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- Local Families Encouraged to Check Students’ Immunization Records in Wake of Changes to Required School Vaccines -

‘Catch-up’ immunization clinics will be offered this summer to local students who require the vaccine that protects against meningococcal disease.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is offering these ‘catch-up’ clinics in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and Northumberland County to help families meet new vaccine requirements coming into effect this fall for Ontario students.

Meningococcal disease is one of three diseases for which students must now have proof of immunization (or a valid exemption). To book an appointment for a ‘catch-up’ meningococcal vaccination clinic, call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.

The new vaccine requirements for Ontario students result from revisions to Regulation 645 under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, the law that requires students to have up-to-date vaccinations (or a valid exemption) for certain diseases in order to attend school.

Under the changes to Regulation 645, families of students attending elementary and secondary school will need to:

  • Provide proof of immunization against meningococcal disease, as well as whooping cough (pertussis) and – for children born in 2010 or later – chickenpox (varicella).
  • Ensure students have the updated dose requirements (number of shots) for tetanus, diphtheria, polio and mumps.
  • The requirements for measles and rubella immunizations are staying the same.

An official with the local Health Unit says the Regulation 645 revisions may appear at first glance to be much worse than they really are.

“The truth of the matter is that if students have been vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule in Ontario from the time they were born, additional vaccines may not be required,” says Linda McCarey, Director of Communicable Disease Control with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The Province is updating the immunization requirements for students attending school so they align with the recommended vaccines that are already provided to children and teenagers in Ontario.”

McCarey sees another benefit to expanding the list of required vaccines for Ontario students. “Immunization saves lives,” she notes.

“These changes will help to improve the health and safety of children, ensuring they are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases and reducing the risk of disease outbreaks in schools.”

The Health Unit encourages families to check their children’s vaccination records to ensure they are up-to-date. If unsure about what vaccines a child has received, families should call their health care provider or the Health Unit. If a vaccine is missing, families will need to make arrangements with their health care provider or the Health Unit to have children receive the required vaccinations.

“All required vaccines are publicly funded,” McCarey adds. “However, parents and caregivers are responsible for providing proof of immunization (or a valid exemption) for students to the Health Unit.”

To find out more details about the new vaccine requirements for school-aged students under the regulatory changes, local residents can call the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577 or click here.

Starting this fall, the Health Unit will assess the immunization status of local students, and families will be notified during the school year if additional vaccines are required. “The goal is not to suspend students, but ensure they have up-to-date vaccinations,” she says.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Linda McCarey, Director of Communicable Disease Control, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577.

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«January 2019»