Have you vaccinated your child? CMA calls for proof before kids go to school

WATCH ABOVE: An organization representing the country’s doctors is calling for proof of immunization from school-aged children. The Canadian Medical Association said the health of Canadians is at risk because the number of children getting vaccinated is decreasing. Julia Wong explains.

HALIFAX – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) said the health of Canadians, including Nova Scotians, is at risk due to lack of immunization.

Now the organization representing the country’s doctors is calling for proof that school-aged children are getting vaccinated against communicable diseases and, if they aren’t, they should not be allowed to go to school.

A motion concerning the issue will be discussed Tuesday at the CMA annual general meeting taking place in Halifax.

CMA President Dr. Chris Simpson describes the motion as calling for “mandatory checkpoints”.

“The resolution will speak to creating an opportunity to have a critical conversation at these checkpoints in times, like the registration at school, so that the appropriate information can be given and the conversation can be had to ensure that parents have all the information they need,” he said.

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Simpson said the majority of parents who are not vaccinating their children are not against it; he said they simply forget. However, he adds that forgetfulness has a public health implication.

“The vaccination schedule is complicated,” he said.

“We’re doing this, of course, because the numbers of children who are vaccinating are decreasing and we’re starting to see outbreaks of disease that we thought were gone, like measles. We believe the time to act is now.”

New Brunswick and Ontario require proof of immunization. Nova Scotia does not. Health Minister Leo Glavine said he is looking into it.

“We would have to look at what are the outcomes showing us in provinces who have moved down in this direction,” he said. “That really can be one of the best guides for us in reaching a final determination.”

Glavine said the effectiveness of a proof of immunization program will be important in a decision.

“We’re already at a good place [with our immunization rates]. If mandatory [vaccination] is actually raising the percentage of uptake and the efficacy that is involved with such a program then we’d certainly be looking at it.”

There is mixed reaction from parents on whether showing proof is reasonable.

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Hillary Harris has three children; she ensures they are up-to-date with their vaccination schedules, calling it a “social responsibility”.

She was slightly hesitant to support requiring proof, but said ultimately she could stand behind the idea.

“It’s the forcing of people to do it that I question. Maybe it would help with keeping more vulnerable people protected so maybe it is a good idea,” she said.

Parent David Trimble said he has some concerns.

“The idea of [making] sure somebody is having a vaccination and you need to actually prove you’ve done this, I’m just not for that,” he said.

“Even though we might choose to be able to vaccinate, I don’t think it should be a law that we are forcing everybody to be able to.”

Parent Ainsley Congdon, who has a young son, said she thinks showing proof of immunization is a good idea.

“There’s a large population of children and adults themselves that can’t be vaccinated so the more people that are vaccinated against communicable diseases, the better,” she said.

The resolution over vaccination proof will be discussed at the CMA meeting Tuesday.