Immunization records still out of date for thousands of students

Thousands of Ottawa school children could face suspension this fall if Ottawa Public Health doesn't receive their updated immunization records.

Letter campaign to begin in fall, followed by suspension, after automated calls to parents earlier this summer

Marie-Claude Turcotte of Ottawa Public Health says many parents don't know that they have to send updated information to public health themselves when their children are immunized. (CBC News)

Thousands of Ottawa school children could face suspension this fall if Ottawa Public Health doesn't receive their updated immunization records.

Earlier this year, public health said it had not been monitoring the immunization records it collected from schools for the past two years, despite being legally obligated to do so. The agency cited the cost and time involved in implementing a new web-based program that tracks immunizations.

The agency said about 63,000 records were out of date in July and that it began an automated calling campaign to parents to let them know.

Since then hundreds of parents have been sending in updated records each day but many records remain incomplete, according to Marie-Claude Turcotte, a program manager at Ottawa Public Health.

In the fall, public health will send letters to parents whose children's records are still incomplete with a window of time to allow parents to send in updated information.

Failing that, students could be suspended.

Vaccination info not passed on automatically

Turcotte said many parents think incorrectly that family doctors or schools pass vaccination details on to Ottawa Public Health. 

"Many people don't know that, unfortunately, we don't get that information automatically. So many parents think that their child is up to date [when] they've received their immunizations, but our records are not up to date," Turcotte said Monday.

"So they need to make sure to take that extra step. They can either call us, they can fax us or they can do it online, but they need to ensure that we have the information."

Children can be opted out of immunization on philosophical/religious or medical grounds, but in both cases parents have to complete forms and submit them to Ottawa Public Health.

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