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New Brunswick government to launch public consultations on mandatory immunization bill

New Brunswick government officials are launching public consultations on a mandatory immunization bill.
New Brunswick government officials are launching public consultations on a mandatory immunization bill. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

An all-party committee of New Brunswick’s legislature is opening public consultations on the introduction of a mandatory immunization bill.

The provincial government has introduced Bill 39, which seeks to remove non-medical exemptions from mandatory immunizations at public schools and licensed early learning and child-care centres.

This comes just days after New Brunswick’s chief medical officer declared a recent measles outbreak was over.

READ MORE: N.B chief medical officer of health says measles outbreak ‘officially over’

In a press release, Justice Minister and Attorney General Andrea Anderson-Mason says the government feels it needs public input before making changes.

“We feel, as a committee, that it is important to consult with all New Brunswickers who may be affected by this proposed legislation,” Anderson-Mason said.

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The New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association backed stricter regulations on immunization for children in a press release.

“The recent measles outbreak in our province is over now, but that does not mean we should not remain vigilant and do everything we can to help prevent another one,” said Christine Boudreau, president of the association.

“Immunization is the best tool we have to protect the population against many life-threatening diseases.”

According to the association’s press release, only 76.4 per cent of children entering kindergarten in 2017-18 met provincial immunization requirements.

The association says it will look to present petitions making the case for stricter immunization regulations to members of the provincial legislature.

READ MORE: New Brunswick youth advocate to examine mandatory vaccinations in the province

The Saint John area was hit with 12 confirmed cases of measles between April and late May 2019. All but one case was linked to Kennebecasis Valley High School, located in Quispamsis, a suburb of Saint John.

The province’s independent child and youth advocate has also begun examining the issue of mandatory vaccinations in the province.

Public consultations on Bill 39 are expected to take place from August 27-29 at the legislative assembly.

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—With Files from by Tim Roszell and Andrew Cromwell