Families Who Receive Suspension Orders For Students Urged to Update Vaccination Records
This week, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is sending school suspension orders to approximately 600 students in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Students and their families who receive these orders are encouraged to immediately contact the Health Unit to update their vaccination records. They can do so by calling the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507, or visiting www.hkpr.on.ca.
The new Immunization Connection Ontario (ICON) site (http://hkpr.icon.ehealthontario.ca) also lets families track, manage, and – most importantly – update records online.
“School suspension orders are a last resort and only issued when students and their families have not updated their vaccination records with the Health Unit,” says Marianne Rock, Manager of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control with the HKPR District Health Unit.
“We encourage families who receive these suspension orders to contact us immediately so vaccination records can be updated and students won’t have to miss a day of class.”
Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, all Ontario students attending school must be fully vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chickenpox) and meningococcal disease.
If vaccines are missing, Ontario health units issue school suspension orders to these students.
In many cases, students have received all the required vaccines from a health care provider, but the records for these vaccines have not been shared with the Health Unit.
If vaccines are still needed, the students can be vaccinated by their doctor or Health Unit nurses.
Students can also be exempted from vaccination for medical reasons and issues of conscience or religious belief.
If none of these options are followed, the school suspension orders will take effect in late April.
“The last thing the Health Unit wants to do is suspend students, but we are legally required to ensure students attending school are fully vaccinated against certain vaccine-preventable diseases,” Rock adds. “Vaccines are free, safe and effective and protect young people against serious illness.”
In January 2018, the Health Unit first contacted approximately 2,500 students for whom it did not have up-to-date vaccination records or valid reasons for why they were not vaccinated. Since then, Health Unit staff have been in touch with many of these families to update the vaccination records or ensure any missing vaccines are provided to students.
“Over the past three months, we were able to update the vaccination records for most students who faced possible school suspension,” Rock says. “Now we want to work with parents and guardians to ensure that the last few hundred students are fully vaccinated and protected… and do not miss a day of school.”