Liberal leader David Swann wants mandatory vaccinations for students

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is calling on the government to make vaccinations mandatory for all students in Alberta schools starting this fall.

Health minister disagrees, says parents should choose

Liberal Leader David Swann wants Alberta to implement mandatory vaccinations for school children. (CBC)

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is calling on the government to make vaccinations mandatory for all students in Alberta schools starting this fall.

“We have an opportunity to require this now,” Swann told the legislature Thursday. “The only thing lacking is real progressive leadership.”

Education minister Gordon Dirks says the matter is between Alberta Health and the school boards.

Health Minister Stephen Mandel went further, saying that the decision to vaccinate remains with parents.

“We urge parents to immunize their children, we think it’s very important...it protects our children, our communities, reduces the burden on our health system, but again, we’re not going to mandate it,” he said.

The issue of unvaccinated children has become a hot and controversial topic, in light of recent measles outbreaks in Toronto and California.

Swann said parents who choose not to vaccinate their children put other students at risk as well as people who are elderly or immunosuppressed.

He says the government should make parents who refuse to vaccinate their children be taught how vaccines work, the implications of getting a disease, and the effect their choice has on public health. 

Swann says if parents still refuse they should be made to sign a letter stating they understand the risks.

“That’s called mandatory choice,” he said. “It allows parents still the freedom but they have to go through a process of learning about the disease and the vaccine.”

Swann says three Canadian provinces require students to have proof of vaccination before they start school. 

The liberal MLA is a medical doctor and a former medical officer of health.
 

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