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Waterloo Public Health postpones immunization enforcement to prep for COVID-19

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Waterloo Public Health announced on Tuesday that it will not be suspending any kids whose immunization records are not up-to-date this spring.

David Aoki, manager of vaccine and preventable disease with the Region of Waterloo Public Health, told Global News that the decision was made by the agency’s senior management team so it could better cope with public demand for resources.

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“With the demand from the public that we’ve been seeing growing in Waterloo for a coronavirus response, we’ve decided to defer those resources into making sure that we can appropriately respond to requests from the public,” he explained.

In a statement, the agency says all enforcement of the Immunization of School Pupils’ Act has been postponed as it works with health care partners to coordinate and implement the COVID-19 response in the region.

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On Feb. 27, Waterloo Public Health announced that 5,650 suspension orders were being issued over elementary students with immunization records that aren’t up to date.

Aoki says that a good portion of the students are actually immunized but have not had their records updated with the region properly.

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“We know historically that the majority of those are immunized,” he said. “They just haven’t reported.

“That’s why we’re comfortable knowing that delaying this and waiting to reinstitute the enforcement next year won’t have a health effect in essence.”

In Tuesday’s announcement, the agency stated that it will honour all appointments that parents “already booked to update immunizations and will be arranging for alternative clinics and opportunities to update records prior to resuming enforcement in the 2020-2021 school year.”

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Public Health says parents with children whose records remain out of date should expect to hear from the agency over the summer.

Thus far, 36 people in Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19 including one woman in her 50s from the region who had flown home from Italy last week.

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