The Canadian Medical Association recently passed a resolution to call on our governments to give schools the authority to require parents to declare their child’s immunization status before they begin public school and to allow public health officials to speak with parents who have not adequately immunized their children. At present, only two provinces have these requirements for immunizations in Canada.
Vaccination rates in Canada continue to be “sub-optimal.” Canadian doctors have taken note and are taking a stand—if even in a small way.
As a parent, I could not be happier. Immunizing my kids against deadly diseases is a no-brainer.
It has been shown over and over again that vaccinations in otherwise healthy children save lives. However, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, myths, fears, and misunderstandings about vaccinations continue to be pervasive. It has become more common for Canadian children to be under-vaccinated—receiving some vaccinations on a delayed schedule—or not vaccinated at all. What scares me is that these unprotected children are attending public schools.
The result of under-vaccinated or unvaccinated children within the public school system is that preventable diseases are beginning to make a comeback in Canada. Outbreaks of measles have been reported in British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta. Increasing cases of pertussis (whooping cough) have also been detected. Measles and whooping cough are very serious—especially for young children—as they can lead to the development of pneumonia or encephalitis (infection of the brain), both potentially fatal. That’s a frightening consequence for diseases that are largely preventable by vaccination. And it’s a risk I am not willing to take.
Canadian doctors have recognized what anti-immunization rhetoric has done to this young generation of Canadians, and they are beginning to take a stand with these new Canadian immunization rules, but I strongly believe that we need our Canadian medical system to take it one step further and demand that all healthy students attending public school be immunized.
Why? When parents choose not to immunize, the door is opened (as we are clearly seeing across the country) to the return of deadly diseases we have not had to deal with for decades. Parents who put their children at risk by refusing to immunize them often rely on so-called “herd immunity” for protection. In fact, aside from putting their own children at risk, what they are really doing is risking the lives of children and adults who legitimately cannot be vaccinated due to underlying health issues. There is a reason we, by and large, enjoy good health in Canada—vaccinations are a big part of that.
Choices affecting the well being of children and those they come in contact with should not be based on false “facts” or fear. It is time for our medical community, for the health and safety of all students, to take a stand and call for a vaccination requirement for all children attending public schools.
We owe our children and future generations that much.
Image: Getty/CandyBox Images
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