Ontario Strengthening Provincial Immunization Program
Actions Include Stronger Requirements for School Vaccine Exemptions
Ontario is taking action to better protect Ontarians against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.
The province's new strategy, Immunization 2020, will strengthen Ontario's publicly funded immunization program over the next five years. As part of the strategy, Ontario will be proposing changes to the Immunization of School Pupils Act that, if passed, would include stronger requirements for school vaccine exemptions.
Under the proposed legislative changes, parents and guardians who are considering not to immunize their children would need to participate in an education session delivered by their local public health unit in order to obtain a vaccine exemption for non-medical reasons. If passed, the proposed changes to the Immunization School Pupils Act would come into effect for the 2016-17 school year.
As part of the Immunization 2020 strategy, the province will also:
- Seek to offer additional vaccines and catch-up programs to children and youth through school-based clinics; and increase access to vaccines for adults and seniors through settings like Community Health Centres and hospitals before a patient is discharged.
- Launch a public education campaign on the importance of immunization, so people can make informed decisions based on facts and evidence.
- Work to make access to travel vaccines as convenient as possible to the public by exploring ways for pharmacists to give travel vaccines in local pharmacies
- Create online resources that provide the latest research about vaccines, vaccine-preventable diseases, immunization programs, and advice on how to have positive immunization experiences for parents and kids.
- Look at ways to improve public reporting on local vaccine coverage rates (such as by public health units, schools or school boards).
- Explore ways for Ontarians to get their immunization records through a secure, online portal. Ontario will also explore ways to link Panorama to other electronic record systems to better collect and analyze vaccine coverage.
- Develop a comprehensive mechanism to monitor the performance of Ontario's immunization system and progress in carrying out the 20 actions in Immunization 2020.
Strengthening Ontario's publicly funded immunization program is part of the government's plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.
- Thanks to vaccines, infectious diseases that were the leading cause of death worldwide 100 years ago are now the cause of less than five per cent of all deaths in Canada.
- In 1982, Ontario was first in Canada to introduce school immunization laws requiring children to be vaccinated against certain diseases in order to attend school, unless they have a valid exemption.
- Immunization 2020 reflects the findings of the Advisory Committee for Ontario’s Immunization System Review. It also reflects recommendations made in the Auditor General of Ontario’s 2014 Annual Report.
“Our government is helping to protect the health of all Ontarians by making our immunization program stronger. The science is absolutely clear – vaccines are safe and effective, and they are an essential tool for protecting public health. Our proposed changes, if passed, will help ensure that parents have the information they need about the benefits of immunization, which will help protect all of us including the most vulnerable. Our new Immunization 2020 strategy will help improve the health of all Ontarians and strengthen our immunization system right across the province.”
“Immunization protects all of us from serious diseases that can be spread in schools and in our communities. They’re also a way for us to protect those who cannot protect themselves, especially young children and those who cannot be vaccinated because of medical conditions. Immunization 2020 will help strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of Ontario’s immunization system, and better support the health of all Ontarians for years to come.”
Dr. David Williams