Immunizations for School Attendance
As a parent, keeping your kids safe and healthy is your number one priority. All children attending school between ages 4 to 17 need to be immunized according to Ontario's Immunization Schedule. Immunization protects children from many serious diseases that are easily spread in schools.
Starting in the 2014/15 school year, children need to have proof of immunization against meningococcal disease, whooping cough and chickenpox to attend school. This is in addition to existing requirements for proof of immunization against many other diseases (see checklist below). The number of shots (doses) required for tetanus, diphtheria, polio and mumps has also been updated. Children who are not fully immunized may not be allowed to attend school.
What you need to do
Check with your health care provider or local public health unit to make sure your child has all the vaccines needed to attend school. If your child has followed the immunization schedule, no further vaccines will be needed.
Did you know that it's your responsibility to report your child's updated immunization records to your local public health unit? Your health care provider does not report these records for you.
Q. What diseases do children and adolescents need to be immunized against to attend school in Ontario?
A. Children and adolescents attending primary or secondary school in Ontario must have proof of immunization against the following diseases:
- Meningococcal Disease - NEW requirement for 2014/15 school year
- Pertussis (whooping cough) - NEW requirement for 2014/15 school year
- Varicella (chickenpox) - NEW requirement for 2014/15 school year, for children born in 2010 or later
Q. Why are children and adolescents required to be immunized against certain diseases to attend school in Ontario?
A. We are committed to improving the health and safety of school children in Ontario. Requiring proof of immunization for meningococcal disease, whooping cough and chickenpox will help further protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases and reduce the risk of disease outbreaks in schools. The updated immunization requirements for school attendance will now be up-to-date with Ontario's current immunization schedule. This is based on current clinical guidelines for the best protection of the population against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Q. When do parents need to have proof their children are immunized against these added vaccine-preventable diseases?
A. Parents should report their child's immunization records to their local public health unit prior to the start of the 2014/15 school year.
If a student requires a catch-up immunization to meet the updated requirements for school attendance, most are available from your regular health care provider. For some vaccines, catch-up immunization clinics will be offered by health units during the school year.
Q. How does a child's immunization record get reported to the local public health unit?
A. Parents are responsible for reporting their child's immunization records to their local public health unit. Parents should contact their local public health unit if they are unsure whether their child's immunization records have been reported.
Q. How will students be able to get these required vaccines?
A. The majority of students will not require any additional vaccines. If children have followed the routine immunization schedule, they will already have received all the vaccines they need to attend school. Parents will just need to make sure they have reported these immunizations to their local public health unit.
Q. If a child has received all of the recommended vaccines on the current immunization schedule will any further action need to be taken? Will they require additional vaccines?
A. Children and adolescents who have followed the immunization schedule will not require any additional vaccines - they will have already received all the vaccines they need. More than 70 per cent of students are already immunized against the three new designated diseases. Parents must just make sure they have reported these immunizations to their local public health unit.