Almost 400 students suspended over incomplete immunization records
More than 380 students born in 2000 and 2001 have been suspended because of incomplete immunization records.
The 388 Grade 11 and 12 students have been suspended for up to 20 days.
The suspensions are part of the health unit's effort to meet the Immunization of Pupils Act, which requires nine immunizations:
- Meningococcal Disease
- Varicella (chickenpox)
Immunization-based suspensions started in 2015. There are two suspension rounds per year — one for elementary schools and one for high schools.
Students had months of warning
Judy Allen, Manager of Healthy Schools at the health unit, said 4,300 "first" notices were sent home with students in December 2017. In February, 1,800 final suspension notices were handed out.
"One of the big issues is that, for this age group, parents forget that kids need a booster dose at 14 to 16 years old," said Allen, adding that physicians are not required to report their patients' immunizations to the health unit, and that often parents assume that this is the case.
"So, many of these kids have had their immunizations, they just haven't reported them to the health unit."
"I don't think this is right. This is dumb. This is really dumb." - Mohammed Shamari, suspended student
Afaq Ahmed came to the health unit Tuesday morning after his son was suspended.
Ahmed said his son was vaccinated 10 days ago, but that information wasn't conveyed to the health unit. He said his physician has since faxed the information, but he wanted to make sure it was received.
Ahmed said the suspensions are not good for the students — his son missed a test today, and has two more tomorrow that could be missed if the suspension isn't sorted out.
Mohammed Shamari was suspended from school Tuesday morning. He said he didn't get it because he doesn't like shots, adding he didn't get any notes home from school.
"I don't think this is right," he said. "This is dumb. This is really dumb."
Walk-in clinics offered
Allen said that students need to be vaccinated to protect themselves. "If a vaccine preventable disease does go through a school, if we have a lot of unimmunized kids, it can go through very quickly and make a lot of people sick."
The health unit is offering walk-in immunization clinics to students from March 20 to 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Suspended students can have their immunization records updated at the health unit, or the updated record can be faxed to the health unit by the student's physician.
Immunization records can also be brought to the health unit between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. The two locations are:
- Windsor: 1005 Ouellette Ave.
- Leamington: 33 Princess St.
As soon as the health unit receives the required vaccination information, the student's immunization record will be updated. At that point, the student and the student's school will be notified that the suspension has been lifted.
Anyone who can't update their immunizations due to medical reasons and religious or personal beliefs must complete a signed exemption form.