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KFL&A Public Health catching up on school vaccinations

The public health unit says it is approaching pre-pandemic levels of mandatory school vaccinations, such as measles and polio. Global News

Over the past two years, mandatory school vaccinations have fallen behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, public health units across the province are catching up on those vaccinations.

At their lowest point, mandatory vaccination rates in the KFL&A region fell to about 80 per cent.

Read more: Ontario health units taking different approaches to student immunization catch up

But now, the health unit is catching up to its pre-pandemic levels.

“With our catch-up clinic efforts, we’ve approached the 90 per cent mark for coverage,” says Brian Larkin, manager of the vaccine-preventable disease team at KFL&A Public Health.

“Normally, after enforcing the program, it would be above 95 per cent for coverage.”

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In some public health districts, such as Windsor-Essex, suspension notices are being handed out to thousands of students whose immunization records are not up to date.

But in KFL&A, suspension notices won’t be handed out at this moment in time.

“During COVID, we have we have not been doing the full suspension process,” says Larkin.

“The suspension process is something that is normally carried out, it would be students who are overdue. But the suspension date would normally be in the spring.”

Some students, who are now in high school, missed their vaccinations for diseases such as hepatitis B when they were in Grade 7.

Public health will be working with schools to ensure students get those shots sometime this year.

Read more: Thousands of Ontario students behind on vaccines usually administered in schools

“There’ll be a lot of information out there for children who are in high school now and still eligible for those Grade 7 vaccines,” says Larkin.

“We’ll look at opportunities to provide more in-school-style vaccine clinics for them.”

Larkin says the health unit will be using the same framework as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to get the school vaccinations back up to speed.

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