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1,000 students in central Ontario face suspension for failing to update immunization records

More than 1,000 students in central Ontario have incomplete or missing immunization data may be suspended from attending school if their immunization records are not up to date.
More than 1,000 students in central Ontario have incomplete or missing immunization data may be suspended from attending school if their immunization records are not up to date. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is issuing suspension orders to more than 1,000 students whose immunization records are not up-to-date in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes.

The health unit stated Tuesday that while suspension orders must be issued, it is continuing to work with parents to ensure their children’s records are updated and students can remain in school. In January 2019, the health Unit contacted approximately 5,600 students in the area for whom it did not have up-to-date vaccination records or valid reasons for why they were not vaccinated.

READ MORE: Peterborough Public Health needs your child’s immunization records

Since then, the health unit says staff has been able to significantly reduce that number as it worked with families to update student vaccination records or provide any missing vaccines.

“School suspension orders are a last resort and only issued when students and their families have not updated their immunization records with the health unit,” stated Marianne Rock, the health unit’s manager of health protection.

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“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.”

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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 is followed, the school suspension orders will take effect at the end of April.

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.

READ MORE: Unvaccinated: Should vaccinations be mandatory for school-aged kids?

Students and their families who receive suspension orders are urged to immediately contact the health unit to update their immunization records. They can do so by calling the health unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507, or online at http://www.hkpr.on.ca.

The new Immunization Connect Ontario also lets families update records online.

“We are very thankful to the many parents and guardians who have worked with us over the past few months to update student immunization records,” Rock said. “Now we want to work with those remaining families to ensure their students are fully vaccinated and protected and do not miss a day of school.”

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In 2018, the health unit issued 600 suspension orders to students. Earlier this year, Peterborough Public Health issued 1,900 letters to parents regarding incomplete student vaccination records.

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