Hundreds of London-area college students face suspension for not being vaccinated towards childhood ailments – London

Hundreds of London-area college students face suspension for not being vaccinated towards childhood ailments – London

Thousands of students in London and Middlesex continue to be suspended for failing to submit vaccination records.

Last month, the Middlesex-London Health Unit began suspending students in its jurisdiction from attending primary or secondary school because they did not have up-to-date vaccination records.

Suspensions will be conducted in six different cohorts between January and the end of May to disperse the thousands without proper documentation.

Under the Ontario Immunization of Student Pupils Act, students in grades 1 through 12 are required to have a current immunization record for nine preventable diseases. If a student’s vaccination or a valid exemption is not recorded, the local health department has the power to issue school expulsions.

The diseases against which students must be vaccinated are diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcus and whooping cough. Children born in 2010 or later must also be vaccinated against chickenpox.

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dr Alex Summers, Middlesex-London’s health officer, says he can’t say how many students are currently suspended for lack of documentation as that changes daily. After the first cohort was suspended on Jan. 18, only 500 of the 3,500 students who were issued suspension notices remained suspended just two days later.

“At the end of the day, very few kids actually get suspended,” Summers said.

According to Summers, the number of suspension notices issued for the February cohort ranges from 3,000 to 4,000.

“Most people don’t choose not to get vaccinated; they just don’t get around to it,” Summers said. “This process helps people engage with it.”

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While there’s ultimately a choice of whether or not to get vaccinated, Summers says policies like the Ontario Immunization of Student Pupils Act help prevent disease outbreaks.

“Vaccine-preventable diseases continue to pose a risk in all communities where immunization rates are not high enough,” Summers said.

Mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, compliance with vaccination certificates has fallen significantly.

Compared to the 2018/19 school year, compliance among seven-year-old students has fallen between two and 49 percent, depending on the vaccine. For 17-year-olds, the rate has fallen between one and 45 percent, depending on the vaccine.

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According to Summers, it’s important to note that these numbers don’t necessarily represent the number of students missing a required intake, but rather the number without submitted records.

Before the final notice came a day before the suspension, a student and his family would have received at least three warnings in advance. In the past school year and in the fall, letters were sent to the families stating that there were no records for a child.

Official notices are sent a month in advance to give families time to either receive and submit documentation, have the student vaccinated, or request an exemption. The final notice includes the various ways families can receive records or get vaccinated.

“We have clinics available to get our hands on vaccines for children who are missing some,” Summers said.

Summers added that the best place to start for getting up-to-date vaccination records is with a family doctor. Once the documents are in possession, the parent or guardian must send the information to the health department.

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