New legislation to allow Alberta to cross-reference children’s immunization records

New legislation aims to boost immunization rates in Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta government introduced legislation Monday designed to boost immunization rates for diseases like measles and chicken pox. But as Fletcher Kent reports, unlike some provinces, the shots will not be mandatory.

Alberta is moving to bring in new rules to get a better handle on which children are immunized so that the province can better respond to outbreaks.

The government has introduced a bill that would allow health officials to cross-match immunization records with school enrolment lists to see who is being overlooked.

Parents of students with missing immunization records would be asked to provide the information, get the immunization, or sign a form saying they did not wish to immunize their children.

READ MORE: Alberta father calls for mandatory vaccinations after son exposed to measles 

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says health officials are missing immunizations records for an estimated 15 to 25 per cent of school-age children.

She says updated information would allow school officials to react faster in outbreaks to protect the health of all children.

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“Immunization has saved countless lives from diseases like measles, whooping cough and polio,” Dr. Karen Grimsrud, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said. “These amendments will give public health professionals better data on who is and isn’t immunized in the event of an outbreak, allowing health professionals to quickly identify children who are at risk and intervene to protect their health and the health of others.

“These amendments will also give us stronger tools to encourage parents to immunize their children and protect them from preventable diseases.”

The Edmonton Catholic School Board said it “applauds” the move, while the Alberta School Councils’ Association said it “welcomes a conversation on comprehensive school health and protecting the well-being of all students.”

Children who do not get immunized can already be directed to stay home if certain highly contagious vaccine-preventable diseases break out at their schools.

Click here to read Bill 28: Public Health Amendment Act.

With files from Global News