Parents who don't vaccinate their children are putting their health and the health of other children at risk, Canada's health minister warned Tuesday.

The vaccination issue has returned to the forefront in recent weeks, with a spike in measles cases in Toronto and some parts of the United States.

During a news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, Rona Ambrose was asked for her thoughts on the movement that blames vaccines for a number of health issues.

The link between vaccines and autism has been debunked, and parents who have any concerns should talk to their doctor, Ambrose said.

"Vaccinations are, frankly, miracles of modern medicine. They are saving millions and millions of lives around the world, especially of children," she said.


Spikes in confirmed measles cases in some parts of Canada and the United States has brought the vaccination issue to the forefront in recent weeks. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

"We're a country that is funding billions of dollars of vaccines for kids around the world, and here in Canada — where we have an educated population with a public health-care system, where your basic vaccinations are covered by the province — you have people who are refusing to vaccinate their children, putting them at risk.

"Most importantly, you're putting other children at risk if you don't immunize your child and you send them to school … another child who might be more vulnerable than your own is at even a greater risk."

A Queen's University professor is stepping aside from teaching a course students said included slides linking vaccinations to autism, while an Ottawa daycare offering a vaccine-free environment for children was criticized by the city's health department last week.