It has been 22 years since the city of Toronto specified which vaccinations students must have to attend school. Parents can opt out by getting a notarized statement of conscience or religion and presenting it to the school; but 98% of parents allow their children to get the free immunizations. As a result, polio and diphtheria are things of the past; we are relatively free of the measles and mumps outbreaks seen elsewhere; childhood deafness is almost unknown; congenital defects have dropped; and children don’t die of lockjaw from a scratch with a rusty nail.
However, science has been marching on, and the province now offers free vaccines against chickenpox, meningitis, whooping cough, rotavirus, invasive pneumococcal disease, hepatitis B, and human papilloma virus for girls. Yet none of these health benefits are not included in the list of vaccinations needed for school. The city’s medical office of health is asking for an evaluation and recommendations based on facts about disease prevention and dangers.
Is it time for Toronto to provide the push that protects children against those diseases? Any of them can be fatal. I say that they should at least be considered and at least some of them added to the mandatory list.