Kitchener-Waterloo

While BC battles measles outbreak, here's what K-W's health officials say parents should do

With recent measles outbreak in B.C., health officials in the Region of Waterloo are asking parents to keep their child's immunization records up to date.

Public health says more than 1,000 students were suspended last year over vaccination protocols

The public health unit says they send out a reminder to parents three times of year. In September, every parent gets a reminder telling them to update their child's immunization information. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

With recent measles outbreak in B.C., health officials in the Region of Waterloo are asking parents to keep their child's immunization records up to date. 

"If any parents are concerned with not knowing when they're due for shots or ... if their child is not compliant with the act, give us a call, we're happy to do some preventative actions and tell you when you're next due," said David Aoki, the manager of vaccine preventable diseases at the region's public health unit. 

According to Region of Waterloo Public Health, 1,101 elementary school students and 438 secondary school students were suspended in the 2017-2018 school year for not complying with the Immunization of School Pupils Act.

The public health unit says they send out a reminder to parents three times of year. In September, every parent gets a reminder telling them to update their child's immunization information.

In October to January, students who don't have their information updated get another letter mailed to them. From February to April, students who don't have their information updated will get a warning of suspension. 

Despite these numbers, Aoki says the region's vaccination rate is relatively high, compared to the Ontario average. 

Aoki says the "compliant" vaccination rates for the region ranged from 96 to 99 per cent for the 2017 to 2018 school year. These numbers include students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, with vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, chicken pox and meningococcal. ​

Aoki says three to four per cent of those numbers include students who are exempted from vaccination either for medical or conscious reasons. He says despite them not getting vaccinated, they still complied with the law and updated their information. 

Non-judgement exemptions 

Aoki says parents who want to exempt their child from getting vaccinated would have to fill out a form, complete a 30 minute educational session at the public health office and get their form notarised. 

"Nowhere on the forms does it ask their reason, and we don't judge based on what their reason is," he says. 

"Certainly in situations where the parents are on the fence, we try to work with them and see what their issues might be in order to encourage immunization, but for those who are completing the form legally, we don't question why that is." 

Aoki says parents can report their child's immunization information online at the region's website, via phone at 519-575-4400 or by mail.