Calgary

David Swann pushes for 'mandatory choice' vaccines

Liberal MLA David Swann is calling for a form of mandatory vaccinations for babies and children in Alberta after an online survey shows most Albertans favour the approach.

NDP government is reviewing the policy but has not made any decisions regarding changes

Liberal David Swann will push for "mandatory choice" when it comes to vaccinations. (Doug Steele/CBC)

Alberta's sole Liberal MLA is pushing for a form of mandatory vaccinations for babies and children, something that a majority in the province favour, according to a recent survey.

Dr. David Swann calls his approach "mandatory choice" because it would allow parents to opt out, but only after extensive education. 

"It's not forcing people to have vaccinations. It's forcing people to make a decision about vaccinations," he said.

Swann's approach calls for parents to attend counselling if they refuse to vaccinate their child. If they still resist, parents would have to withdraw their child from school if a disease like whooping cough appears.

Education is a better approach than forcing parents to vaccinate, according to University of Calgary microbiologist Glen Armstrong.

"I personally am not in favour of mandatory vaccinations. I believe if you educate them, they will on their own, without being forced, make the right decision," he said.

Swann, a physician, plans to make "mandatory choice" in vaccinations a priority in the legislature, although he acknowledges it will be difficult as the only Liberal MLA.

"I'll be speaking with the health minister about it," he said.

The Alberta government is reviewing the policy, but it has not "made any decisions regarding potential changes to the immunization policy," according to a written statement.

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