Staff with the Northwestern Health Unit are hoping to focus their resources on addressing any COVID-19 outbreaks as students return to school next month, and they’re hoping to avoid any other types of outbreaks.
Due to the COVID-19 shutdown of schools before the March break earlier this year, Grade 7 students missed their second dose of their hepatitis B, HPV and meningococcal immunizations.
Health unit staff are now advising families of students who missed their second dose of vaccinations to contact their local health unit office to book an appointment, and to get caught up before the return to school next month.
“Like all other agencies in the health sector, we’ve had to pause some of our programming,” explained Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health for the NWHU. “Vaccines are important, especially with COVID-19.”
“We are trying to focus on catching up on vaccines across the population for those vaccine routines in young children aged 0-6, and Grade 7 and 8’s. We will be working with schools to allow vaccine clinics to occur, but right now we are using our local clinics to do those catch-up vaccines.”
In Ontario, the Immunization of School Pupils Act states that elementary and secondary students must be appropriately immunized, unless they have a valid exemption. It’s been in place since 1990, and students can face suspensions for not being immunized.
Your child can be exempted from immunization for medical reasons or due to conscience or religious belief, and parents must attend a mandatory education session on that choice.
Additionally, If you want your child to attend daycare, and decide not to vaccinate them due to medical, religious or philosophical reasons, you will need to give your daycare a valid written exemption. If the disease appears in your child's daycare centre, your child may have to stay out of daycare until the disease is no longer present.
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