New Brunswick

Dominic Cardy seeks accurate picture of student vaccination numbers

Education Minister Dominic Cardy says he's asked his deputy ministers to talk with school districts to determine if the proportion of vaccinated students is shrinking or if vaccination records haven't been kept properly.

Education minister says policy requiring vaccination has to be enforced

Education Minister Dominic Cardy says it's the school districts' responsibility to collect information on vaccination numbers. (Gilles Landry/Radio-Canada)

Education Minister Dominic Cardy says he's asked his deputy ministers to talk with school districts to determine if the proportion of vaccinated students is shrinking or if vaccination records haven't been kept properly.

Cardy said concerns have been raised in the media in recent days about an inconsistent application of the government's regulation on vaccinations in schools.

On Tuesday, he posted on Twitter that the Department of Education is "on it."

"It's the [school] district's responsibility to collect this information and we expect that to be done," Cardy said in an interview Wednesday. He said the deputy ministers will be talking to school districts over the next couple of days. 

"From there, we can look at the situation and see if we have a problem with vaccinations, which I'm hoping we don't … and [we can] share good news about high levels of vaccinations in the province. If that's not the case, we can figure it out at that point."

The Department of Health says 87 per cent of children entering kindergarten have their measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Under the Department of Education's Policy 706, parents must provide proof of immunization when their children enter school for the first time that they've been immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and meningococcal disease.

Parents who don't provide proof of immunization must provide a medical exemption note signed by a medical or nurse practitioner or a written statement explaining why their child isn't immunized.

Parents can object to immunizing their child for "reasons of conscience or religious belief." The student can be kicked out of school if the written statement or medical note is not provided.

The policy says district or school staff are responsible for making sure proof of immunizations has been received.

"The policy is already there," Cardy said.  

"We have rules and regulations on the books [and] they should be enforced. That's the reason we have them."

The government of New Brunswick announced in January it will spend $12.5 million over four years on a new electronic health-record system to track vaccinations.

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