Students face suspension over vaccinations

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Households in Norfolk and Haldimand have been scrambling over the past month after more than 2,000 students were threatened with suspension for out-of-date immunization records.

Marlene Miranda, Haldimand and Norfolk’s general manager of health and social services, said that number had been reduced to 113 by April 1.

“Often, the kids are immunized,” Miranda said the next day. “It’s just a matter of updating their records.”

Households identified have till April 26 to prove their children are vaccinated against a number of communicable diseases. Students whose records remain incomplete at the deadline face a 20-day suspension.

Under the microscope are primary students aged seven and high school students aged 17. These are the ages where the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit requires updated records.

Ontario’s Immunization of School Pupils Act requires these cohorts to have up-do-date vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis, whooping cough (pertussis), and chicken pox (varicella).

“Students requiring immunizations can contact their primary care provider and advise the health unit or attend a health unit clinic,” public health nurse Beth Murdoch said in a recent report to the Haldimand and Norfolk Board of Health.

“Students with medical exemptions or conscientious/religious exemptions are also accommodated by contacting the health unit to complete the required steps and documentation. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit makes every effort to avoid issuing a suspension.”

In the same report, Murdoch said the total budget this year to support the counties’ vaccine preventable diseases team is $526,300. The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care provides $353,400 of this. Norfolk chips in $102,900 and Haldimand provides $70,000.


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