B.C. favours vaccination registry, as poll shows wide support for mandatory immunization

A new poll shows wide support for making vaccinations mandatory — as the B.C. government and health officials here consider a documentation registry similar to those used in Ontario and New Brunswick.

Mandatory documentation is active in Ontario and New Brunswick

Health authorities are reminding parents that children over five can receive a vaccination from a pharmacist. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A new poll shows wide support for making vaccinations mandatory — as the B.C. government and health officials here consider a documentation registry similar to those used in Ontario and New Brunswick.

The Angus Reid opinion poll released Thursday shows 70 per cent of respondents believe mandatory vaccination should be a requirement for children entering school.

The mandatory registration model, however — where parents supply proof of their child's vaccination status when they start school — has gained traction in British Columbia.

"I don't consider mandatory vaccination a policy option for B.C. at this time," said a statement from Dr. Monika Naus, the medical director of communicable diseases and immunization at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

"I do support mandatory documentation of children's immunization status for enrolment at school and day nursery," she said.

The poll was released as the Metro Vancouver area sees a surge in demand for vaccinations, following a measles outbreak in Vancouver.

Mandatory registration was recommended in 2014 by then B.C. Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, after 343 measles cases were reported in B.C.

It has been under active consideration since then, according to B.C.'s health minister, Adrian Dix.

"What we need to do is take the steps to see that more people are immunized," said Dix. "Mandatory registration … would increase the rate of vaccination." 

Ontario parents are given a yellow immunization card that gets filled out by their doctor with each immunization appointment. (Ontario.ca)

In Ontario, every child has an immunization card that shows a record of their vaccinations. Parents update the card with each vaccination or booster and report those to the provincial health care unit either in person or online. 

In the mandatory documentation model, if a child is missing one or more vaccines, a valid exemption must be provided. Those exemptions include medical reasons, proof of immunity or a parental statement about religion.

Other finding from the the Angus Reid poll show:

  • 24 per cent say vaccinations should be a parent's choice.
  • 29 per cent believe the science on vaccinations isn't "quite clear"
  • 26 per cent were concerned about risk of side effects for those being vaccinated.

Dr. Naus said as far she knows, ambulance attendants in Ontario are the only people in Canada who are under mandatory immunizations, with exemptions for medical reasons.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said Manitoba had mandatory registration of vaccinations. Only Ontario and New Brunswick use that model.
    Feb 22, 2019 8:08 AM PT

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