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CHECK YOUR RECORDS

- First Notices Issued to Area Students Who Do Not Have Up-to-Date Immunization Records -

Some students in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes could face an unexpected holiday from school later this spring.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has mailed approximately 2,400 first notices to local students for whom the Health Unit does not have up-to-date immunization records. Second notices will be sent to parents later in March, and if records are still not updated with the Health Unit, school suspensions for these students could start in June.

Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, the Health Unit must ensure students attending school are immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chickenpox) and meningococcal disease. People who get these diseases can face serious complications, even death, which is why the Ontario government provides vaccines free-of-charge to protect against these diseases.

“While it is not the Health Unit’s intent to suspend students, there is a requirement for all students to be immunized,” says Marianne Rock, Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Our goal in ensuring students have up-to-date immunizations is to better protect everyone in our community from common diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.”

Any family who received a first notice in February is asked to check the student’s vaccination record to ensure it is up-to-date. The family can then contact the Health Unit and provide the missing immunization information. In many cases, students have received the required vaccines from a family doctor or other health care provider, but parents have not provided the records to the Health Unit.

“Records of immunization given by health care providers are not automatically forwarded to the Health Unit, so the responsibility falls to parents and caregivers,” says Rock. “For most people, these notices are a necessary reminder to update their child’s immunization record with the Health Unit so the information can be added to our database.”

In a few instances, parents or guardians who receive a Health Unit notice may discover that their child is missing one of the required vaccines. This is an opportunity for families to ensure their child is fully protected against the disease by arranging to get the vaccine from their health care provider. People without a health care provider can call the Health Unit to discuss immunization options. Students may also be exempted from vaccination for medical reasons, or by giving a sworn affidavit that immunization is against their conscience or religious belief.

Families who receive a notice should immediately contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 for more information.

For media inquiries, contact:

Marianne Rock, Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or toll-free: 1-866-888-477, ext. 1486.

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