Saskatchewan considering mandatory vaccination records in schools

The Canadian Medical Association wants kids to be vaccinated before starting school.

Canadian Medical Association calling for kids to be vaccinated

Saskatchewan's Chief Public Health Officer says the province is looking at the idea of mandatory vaccinations for school children. (CBC)

Back to school has kids packing their paper and pencils, but what about their immunization records?

The Canadian Medical Association would like to see those records on the back to school list, as well.

It wants kids to be vaccinated before starting classes and for the government to allow schools to ask for vaccine records.

Saskatchewan's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says the province has been weighing the pros and cons of taking a mandatory stance on vaccinations.

Currently, it takes a more educational approach, working with families in the preschool years.

Public health later works with schools to review immunization records through the course of a student's education.

A check is done in grade one, grade six and then grade eight, before students go to high school.

Shahab says the review in the first grade catches a lot of students who may have missed earlier boosters. 

"I think we're doing well," he said. "Is there room for improvement? Absolutely." 

Shahab says his office would like to see immunization rates exceed 95 per cent.

Currently, he says, in terms of the measles vaccine, 89 per cent of children have the vaccine by the age of two, 92 per cent have it by grade 1 and 96 per cent by the time they finish high school. 

Busy families falling behind in immunization

Shahab says national surveys show only a small number of parents are "conscientiously opposed" to vaccines.

Most are busy and can't keep their appointments to get their children the latest shots. 

"Children are caught up in school because that's easier," he said. "Apart from that, we need to continue in terms of improving access for busy families to get their vaccines in time in the preschool years."


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