Immunization status reporting required for B.C. students

A measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is seen on a countertop at a pediatrics clinic.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eric Risberg

Parents and guardians will be expected to provide public health units with immunization records for students enrolled in the provincial school system.

"In the wake of the global measles outbreaks this spring, B.C. is implementing several measures to protect children and families from this and other communicable diseases through improved immunization," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

"Starting this school year, parents and guardians will be expected to provide the immunization status of their children to their local public health unit. This mandatory reporting of the immunization status of students will ensure the public health system is prepared in the event of an outbreak. Furthermore, with the up-to-date records, public health can reach out to families with children behind on their immunizations and provide an opportunity to catch them up, as well as discuss any concerns with parents."

Most parents are already in compliance with this requirement, so they will not need to do anything further when the new school year starts. Parents or guardians with an incomplete or missing record will be contacted by public health on how to provide their child's immunization information if it is needed, plus receive information on upcoming school-based or community health clinics where their child can receive immunizations if they require them.

Public health officials will review school enrolment records in late August and into October 2019 to match them against immunization records for kindergarten-to-Grade 12 students that currently exist in the provincial immunization registry. For the first year of the reporting requirement, the goal will be to help parents get their children up to date on immunizations by the end of the school year.

Mandatory reporting is part of the ongoing plan to increase immunization rates for all vaccine-preventable diseases. This effort commenced with the measles immunization catch-up program in April 2019. The most recent data indicates that increasing the opportunities for guardians to get children immunized is improving immunization levels overall.

"This spring, we launched the catch-up measles immunization program throughout schools and public health units, which is having a positive effect," said Dix. "Since April, the number of kindergarten-to-Grade 12 students having received two doses of measles vaccine has increased by over 33,000. Based on the records reviewed so far by health authorities - amounting to over 566,000 - nearly 95 per cent of students have received one or two doses of vaccine."


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