Immunization (Vaccination)

Protect babies and children from vaccine-preventable illnesses like measles, mumps and rubella.

Ensuring your child follows Ontario’s Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule is important to provide full protection. All publicly-funded vaccines are safe, effective and available at no cost.

School-Based Immunizations

  • The Health Unit will be providing three vaccines (non-COVID-19 ones) to Grades 7 and 8 students during the 2021/22 school year.  Click here for more information.

Immunization of School Pupils Act

Students in schools are required to be immunized against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. This is under Ontario’s Immunization of School Pupils Act.

Students or their parents must provide an up-to-date record of immunization or a legal exemption (based on medical, religious or philosophical reasons) to the Health Unit. If this is not provided, students could face suspension from school.

Similarly, children attending Child Care Centres/Daycares are required to have their childhood immunizations up to date.

Additional Resources

Click on the ‘Related Topics’ links for more information.

School-Based Immunization Program

Protect your child from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The Health Unit will be providing three vaccines (non-COVID-19 ones) to Grades 7 and 8 students during the 2021/22 school year. Public Health Nurses will be at local schools in late Fall 2021 to provide first doses, and again in Spring 2022 to provide second doses of these vaccines.

The vaccines being offered protect against the following diseases:

  • Meningitis (Men C-ACYW-135) – This vaccine is required to attend school. It is different from Meningitis C vaccine that your child may have received as a baby.
  • Hepatitis B (HB)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Please complete the Consent Form for School-Based Vaccines and return to your child’s school as soon as possible.

To help your child on clinic day, make sure they eat a good breakfast, bring a lunch, and wear a loose sleeved shirt. Students can also bring something to distract them like music, a book or a game. You can let them know that the needle may feel like a pinch in the upper arm and should only last for a few seconds.

If you have further questions, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 1507.

Additional Resources

Exemptions from Immunizations

Parents may complete a Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit form for their child if they are religiously or philosophically opposed to immunization.

The Statement of Medical Exemption is a form for children who require an immunization exemption for medical reasons (i.e. prior immunity or medical contraindication). A Physician or Nurse Practitioner must complete the form.

To learn more about getting exemptions, please visit Vaccines for Children at School (Ministry of Health website) for step-by-step instructions. If you have any additional questions, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.

Completed exemption forms must be returned to your local Health Unit office.

Managing Your Child’s Pain During Immunization

Immunizations protect your child from serious disease, but they can also cause discomfort. This can cause stress and anxiety for some children and their parents, who may then delay or avoid vaccinations. This then means that those children are not protected from serious diseases.

Parents play an important role in supporting their children during immunizations. Below are some tips you can use to help reduce the stress, anxiety and pain when it comes to immunizations in children under the age of three years.

What you can do:
Breastfeed your child
  • If you are breastfeeding your baby, start to breastfeed your baby before vaccination. Make sure you have a good latch. Then continue breastfeeding during and after the vaccination.
  • Breastfeeding during vaccination is safe for babies, even newborns. There is no evidence that babies will choke or associate their mother with pain.
Hold your child
  • Position your child upright and hold your child close before, during and after the needle. This helps your child to feel secure and to stay still.
What you can give:
Topical anesthetic
  • In Canada, you can buy topical anesthetics to reduce the pain from vaccination without a prescription: EMLATM (lidocaine-prilocaine), AmetopTM (tetracaine), or MaxileneTM (lidocaine).
  • They are safe for babies, even newborns.
  • Apply them at home or at the clinic before vaccination. For more information about numbing creams and patches for immunizations. Click Here for More Information

For more tips on reducing the pain of immunization for children, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5003 and speak with one of our Healthy Families nurses.

Immunizations – A Little Pain, But a Lot of Gain

Let’s be honest – no one likes to watch their children get immunized. The needle can sometimes cause babies and children some anxiety and pain and that’s tough for parents to watch. But as parents or caregivers, we need to do what’s best for our little ones and that means making sure they are immunized again serious diseases. So, what’s a parent to do when their little one is due to be immunized?

Give one of the following tips a try to see if you can lessen the pain of the needle:

Check your state of mind:
  • Try to stay calm, use your normal speaking voice and be positive before, during and after the vaccination. This will help your baby to stay calm.
  • Children see and feel what their parents are doing and often do the same. If you are nervous, you can take a few slow deep breaths to calm yourself. Breathe so your belly expands, not your chest. You can do this while holding your child.
Distract your younger child:
  • Taking your child’s focus away from the needle can reduce their pain.
  • Hold your child close and distract them with singing or talking. For babies, breastfeeding is an ideal way to comfort them and keep them busy. If you are not breastfeeding, try giving them a soother. Allow baby to suck (breastfeeding or soother) before, during and after the vaccination.
  • Add rocking your child back and forth after the vaccination.You may choose to distract an older child with toys such as bubbles, pop-up books rattles, or smartphones. If toys do not work, hold your child close and distract with singing or talking. Add rocking your child back and forth after the vaccination.
Help an older child prepare (especially if getting a vaccine at school):
  • Ensure they eat a good breakfast, bring a lunch, and wear a loose sleeved shirt.
  • Have students bring something to distract them like music, a book or a game.
  • Assure them that the needle only feels like a pinch in the upper arm and should only last for a few seconds.

Will these tips eliminate the pain? Probably not but helping your child through the experience will make both you and your child feel better.

Report Your Child’s Immunization

Parents are responsible for updating their child’s immunization record or providing a valid exemption form to the Health Unit.

Students without complete records or a valid exemption on file at the Health Unit may be suspended as per the Immunization of School Pupils Act.

Please do NOT provide records of your child’s COVID-19 vaccination.

To report your child’s immunization:

  • Online: Click here
  • By Phone: Call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507
  • By Mail or In Person: Send or take a photocopy of your child’s immunization record to:
    • HKPR District Health Unit
    • 200 Rose Glen Road
    • Port Hope, ON L1A 3V6

When updating your child’s record, you will need the following information:

  • child’s first and last name
  • child’s birth date
  • child’s school
  • name of vaccine received and the date it was received

Immunization Requirements for Daycare

Within a daycare environment, infectious diseases can spread easily from child to child, or between children and staff. Immunization is an extremely effective way to prevent children and staff from become ill from diseases and suffering further complications that could arise.

Parents and/or guardians are required to provide their child’s immunization record or valid exemption to the daycare during registration.

The local Medical Officer of Health requires children attending daycare to be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenza b (Hib), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, meningococcal disease and varicella (Chickenpox), according to the Ontario schedule.

The Health Unit works in partnership with day nursery operators to ensure all children and staff in their facilities are protected from vaccine preventable diseases. Effective assessment of immunization status and management of outbreaks requires ongoing monitoring.

To learn more about immunization requirements, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.

Suspension of Students Under ISPA

Why First Notices of Suspension are Sent
  • Students are considered ‘overdue’ for a vaccine due to a timing issue (E.g. the interval between immunization doses is incorrect; a child received a vaccine prior to the age of eligibility).
  • Students may have received all the required vaccines from their health care provider, but these records have not been provided to the Health Unit.
  • Students are missing one of the required vaccines and need to be immunized (NOTE: Students may be exempted from vaccination for medical reasons, or by giving a sworn affidavit that it is against their conscience or religious belief. Contact the Health Unit for details).
What to Do
  • Immunization protects students from many serious diseases that can easily be spread. Be sure your student is protected. Vaccines are proven to be safe and effective.
  • Check your student’s immunization record to be sure it is up-to-date.
  • If uncertain, contact your health care provider or the Health Unit to ensure your student has all the vaccines needed to attend school. If your student has followed recommendations in Ontario’s Routine Immunization Schedule, no further vaccines will be required at this time.
  • If a vaccine is missing, you will need to make arrangements with your health care provider or the Health Unit to have your student receive the required vaccines. It is the responsibility of parents/caregivers to provide proof of immunization (or a valid exemption) for students to the local Health Unit.

To learn more, contact the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507

Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA)

The Health Unit is required under the Immunization of School Pupils Act to collect and maintain up-to-date immunization records for every student registered in our jurisdiction. The law states that parents must provide the Health Unit with proof of completed immunizations for:

  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • polio
  • measles
  • mumps
  • rubella
  • whooping cough (pertussis)
  • chickenpox (only applies to students born on or after 2010)
  • meningococcal

The Health Unit will contact parents/guardians of local students who are overdue or missing certain immunizations required under the ISPA. Families who receive these notices are asked to immediately contact the Health Unit toll-free at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507 or email us.

Under the ISPA, students can be suspended from school if their immunization records are not up-to-date with the Health Unit.

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