Up-to-date vaccinations will be needed again for students in Burlington, Oakville, Milton

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Published July 11, 2023 at 11:32 am

After a lapse in vaccine enforcement for students in Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills over the last couple of years, Halton Public Health wants to get things fully back on track by the 2026-27 school year.

In a report that will be presented to Halton Region council tomorrow (July 12), the department says enforcement of the Immunization of School Pupils Acts (ISPA) was affected by pandemic disruptions causing limited access to immunizations.

Coupled with a lack of ISPA enforcement activities, the result was a decrease in vaccine coverage and compliance rates among Halton students.

According to the report, Halton Region Public Health did not provide in-school vaccine clinics to Grade 7 students for two years, beginning in mid-March 2020. In lieu of this, Public Health offered community immunization clinics to provide school-based vaccines to students in Grade 7 and older.

In April 2022, Public Health resumed in-school clinics for Grade 7 and 8 students to receive the school-based vaccines. As part of the School-Based Immunization Program, Public Health will continue to offer immunization against Hep B, HPV, and meningococcal disease, to all Grade 7 students.

In-school clinics occur in more than 140 schools, including public, private, Catholic, and French schools in Halton.

Full enforcement of the ISPA means all students in Grades 2 to 12 undergo immunization record assessment, and may be suspended from school by an order from the local Medical Officer of Health if they are not compliant with ISPA requirements.

As a result of pausing this plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health did not achieve full ISPA enforcement, fewer student cohorts have been subject to enforcement measures, and consequently ISPA compliance rates have decreased.

Immunization catch-up opportunities have been provided through community immunization clinics, offering both school-based and ISPA-required vaccines. These combination clinics allow students to receive immunizations that they may have missed, during a single clinic appointment.

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