It’s the Law
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.
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 Day Nurseries Act (DNA) of 1990 (section 33) requires operators of licensed day nurseries to ensure that children who are under their care are immunized as recommended by the local Medical Officer of Health. The following links will assist Day Nursery Operators to fulfill the requirements under the Day Nurseries Act;
- The Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) of 1990 states that all children attending school in Ontario must be adequately immunized against the following diseases: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Meningococcal Disease, and Varicella (varicella is mandatory for students born on or after January 1, 2010).
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.
Immunization information is not provided to the Health Unit by a doctor’s office or Emergency Department, so it is the parent’s responsibility to provide it.
Suspension from School
If the Health Unit does not have a complete record, you will receive notice 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 within 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:
- appropriate medical reasons
- religious or conscience belief
It is important for both the protection of the child and the community, that parents make an informed decision about not vaccinating their child.
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 Conscience or Religious Belief” Affidavit form. The Affidavit 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. These exemptions are not common. Only about 2% of students in Grey and Bruce Counties have valid conscience/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.
Health Care Consent Act
The Health Care Consent Act is an Ontario law that states a person has the right to consent to or refuse treatment if they have the mental capacity to provide informed consent – regardless of their age. Informed consent involves the ability to fully comprehend;
- the nature of the treatment
- the expected benefits of the treatment
- the material risks of the treatment
- the material side effects of the treatment
- the alternative courses of action
- the likely consequences of the treatment.