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The Law: Suspensions, Exemptions and Exclusions
Children and students who are up-to-date with their vaccinations are protected against many serious diseases and their complications. High rates of immunization help to ensure that outbreaks of disease do not occur in our communities. The Immunization of School Pupils Act and the Day Nurseries Act require all school students and children enrolled in daycares to be fully immunized, unless a valid medical or philosophical/religious exemption is in place.
Understanding the Law about Student Immunizations in Ontario
Young children in group settings, such as day cares or schools, are at a higher risk of becoming infected with communicable diseases. These communicable diseases can also pose a threat to others in the community. Many of these diseases are preventable with adequate vaccination. In Ontario:
The Grey Bruce Health Unit is responsible for collecting and maintaining the immunization records of all children enrolled in daycare facilities, as well as all students enrolled in schools within Grey and Bruce counties, including private, public and catholic elementary and secondary schools. These records are then kept within a secure database at the Health Unit.
Parents are responsible for providing their child’s immunization record to the Health Unit when registering their child for school or transferring their child to a school in Grey or Bruce Counties from another area. Parents are also responsible for keeping the Health Unit informed every time their child gets another vaccination.
Suspension from School
If the Health Unit does not have a complete record, you will receive a phone call and/or letter about the missing information. This will give you an opportunity to update your child’s record or to find the missing information and return a copy of it to the Health Unit with a given amount of time.
If the Health Unit does not receive this information in the given time, you will receive a notice of suspension until the appropriate documentation and/or immunizations are received.
Note: The law also states that parents of children who refuse to have their children immunized or legally exempted are liable for a fine of up to $1,000.
What can I do if I do not want my child immunized?
Even though immunization is mandatory in Ontario, some children may be exempted under the following special circumstances:
It is important for both the protection of the child and the community, that parents make an informed decision about not vaccinating their child. See Vaccine Safety for more information.
Medical exemptions must be completed by a physician and will be given to children whose health could be affected by vaccinations. Children who are already immune and have evidence to prove it may be exempted by a physician as well. Medical exemptions are not common and less than 1% of students in Grey and Bruce Counties have a valid medical exemption filed with the Health Unit.
Parents who do not want their child to have immunizations, or do not want a specific vaccine, can obtain a “Statement of Conscious or Religious Belief” exemption form. The exemption forms are available from the Grey Bruce Health Unit 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456. The form must by witnessed by a person who is authorized to sign affidavits. Persons authorized to sign affidavits, under the Commissioners for taking Affidavits Act (Revised 1990) include:
In Ontario: (Sec. 1. (1))
These exemptions are not common. Only about 2% of students in Grey and Bruce Counties have valid conscious/religious belief exemptions filed with the Health Unit.
Exclusion From School
In the event of an outbreak or threatened outbreak of any vaccine preventable disease included in the Immunization School Pupils Act or Day Nurseries Act legislation, the medical officer of health may order any student or daycare attendee who is not immune, regardless of legal exemptions filed with the Health Unit, to be excluded from school or daycare. In this case, the child may not be able to attend school or daycare for two to three weeks or until the outbreak of disease has ended.
We work with the Grey Bruce community to protect and promote health