Nova Scotia

CMA vaccination resolution questioned by Nova Scotia's top doctor

The chief public health officer for Nova Scotia says a resolution passed this week at the Canadian Medical Association's annual general meeting in Halifax, calling for parents to declare their child's immunization status, is good in theory only.

Resolution calls on schools to require parents to declare child's immunization status

Dr. Robert Strang says at this point, without an electronic immunization registry, schools would have to rely on parents, who may not keep track of that information. (CBC)

The chief public health officer for Nova Scotia says a resolution passed this week at the Canadian Medical Association's annual general meeting in Halifax, calling for parents to declare their child's immunization status, is good in theory only.

Dr. Robert Strang says at this point, without an electronic immunization registry, schools would have to rely on parents who may not keep track of that information and doctors who may not have the information either.

"I think it's an interesting idea, but there's a number of very practical issues which make it, perhaps, not very feasible to implement," he said.

Strang says an electronic immunization registry could help with that problem because it would be on record with the health department.

The CMA resolution called on governments to authorize elementary and secondary schools to require parents to declare their child's immunization status.

Another problem Strang sees with the resolution is the CMA's suggestion that non-immunized children be referred to public health for further discussion. He says it's not practical and public health doesn't have the staff for that.

Privacy issues

Strang says his department is working on building an electronic immunization registry, but there is no set date for when that could happen.

"We're actively working within government to move that forward and get the necessary approvals we have to do, to do the work of establishing an information system that could collect that information," he said.

Privacy issues are also something that have to be worked through, Strang says.

"I think there are some privacy questions around it, that would need to be explored carefully." 

Strang says one thing he would like to see is more sharing of information between provinces.

"As we're getting more and more outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease that are across multiple jurisdictions across the country, we need to be able to share information, including who's vaccinated and who's not, between provincial and territorial jurisdictions."

Ontario and New Brunswick are the only provinces that currently require immunization records when a child is being registered for school.

With files from The Canadian Press

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