Students who’ve not received their immunization shots, or without updated records, face suspensions as the Public Health department begins enforcing the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) on May 7.
Region of Waterloo Public Health this week mailed a request asking the parents and guardians of secondary school students to provide immunization records for those students whose records remain incomplete.
Linda Black, manager of the vaccine-preventable diseases program at Region of Waterloo Public Health, said every year there are incidents of students who have all of their shots but have not updated their records. On the other hand, many students miss out on the proper immunizations as well.
“It’s important to have that information so that in case there is an outbreak we have accurate records, so we know who is protected and who potentially needs to be excluded from school,” she said.
The annual procedure is a good reminder for those who have lost track of their immunization information, she added.
The procedure ensures that the region is tracking the immunization status of all children under 18 as a pre-emptive measure to protect children from vaccine-curable diseases, including those covered under the act: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps and rubella.
Though this is a mandatory measure, exceptions based on religious or medical reasons are allowed provided all proper legal documentation is presented directly to Public Health.
Students and parents may face consequences should they not provide proper documentation by the May 7 deadline.
The ISPA dictates that students failing to provide an immunization record and/or legal exception may face a school suspension for up to 20 days or until the documentation can be provided.
In September, the department sends notices home to remind parents and students to update their information. They review the records in March and send a second round of letters to those with incomplete immunization information. Public Health gives parents about six weeks to update their information before sending a letter to schools a week prior to the final deadline on May 7, when all students who still have incomplete records are eligible for suspension.
Public Health recommends that guardians and students obtain their records from a family physician or make use of one of two walk-in clinics set up for the purpose in Waterloo and Cambridge. The clinics are located at 99 Regina St. S. and 150 Main St. respectively, with both clinics running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Every time your child gets an immunization it is important to call or let us know. We don’t get the information from family doctors, we have to get them from parents,” said Black.
Records or exemptions can be submitted in one of three ways: by phone at (519) 883-2007, in-person at the walk-in clinics or online at https://e-immunization.regionofwaterloo.ca/.