Nova Scotia reminds parents to get children vaccinated

As September looms and students get ready to go back to school, the province is reminding parents to get their children vaccinated.

Reminder comes amid sharp increase in European measles cases

Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Nova Scotia's deputy chief medical officer of health, says the consequence of not getting immunizations can be severe. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Parents in Nova Scotia are being reminded to get their children vaccinated as September approaches and students get ready to go back to school.

Proof of immunization is not mandatory for schoolchildren in Nova Scotia, partly because the number of people who choose to vaccinate is high, said the province's deputy chief medical officer of health.

"What we've seen is that our immunization rates in the province of Nova Scotia, sort of over the past 10 years, frequently hover at about the 90 per cent mark," Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed said in an interview.

Nova Scotia's immunization schedule recommends a second dose of MMRV vaccine between 18 months and six years old. Children in Grade 7 receive vaccines against HPV, hepatitis B, meningococcal quadrivalent and Tdap at school-based clinics. 

Adults are also encouraged to be immunized to protect themselves and those around them.

Required in some regions

Two Canadian provinces require proof of vaccinations for children to attend school: New Brunswick and Ontario.

In Ontario, parents who would like their child to be exempt from vaccinations at schools are required to first take an educational session about vaccine safety at a local health-care centre.

Watson-Creed said Nova Scotia doesn't have any plans to introduce similar enforcement policies in the province.

In 2015, 89 per cent of parents reported that their children's vaccinations were completely up-to-date according to a CNICS survey. (CBC)

A 2015 national childhood immunization survey conducted by Statistics Canada showed the vast majority of parents or guardians agreed childhood vaccines are safe, effective and important for their child's health.

That same year, the percentage of parents or guardians who were concerned about potential side effects of vaccines fell to 66 per cent from 70 per cent recorded in 2013.

'Severe Consequences'

The World Health Organization said Monday more than 41,000 measles cases were reported in Europe during the first half of the year — more than in all 12-month periods so far this decade.

At least 37 people have died, the UN agency's European office said.

Watson-Creed said that while the choice for immunization is left up to the individual in Nova Scotia, the consequence of not getting immunizations can be severe.

"Our best science indicates to us for now over 60 years, that the vaccines that we are using are quite safe and very effective at preventing the disease. And the diseases themselves are far worse."

About the Author

Danielle d'Entremont

Reporter/Editor

Danielle d’Entremont is a reporter based in Halifax. She previously worked for CBC Toronto and is happy as a clam to be back in her hometown. She’s always fishing for interesting stories. Send your story to her at danielle.dentremont@cbc.ca.