Improperly Vaccinated Mississauga Students Could Face Suspension
About 8,500 high school students in Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) have been given suspension notices due to incomplete vaccination records.
According to a recent story in the Mississauga News, 4,800 Peel District School Board and 3,600 Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board students received notices from Peel Public Health notifying them and their parents that, should they not get caught up on immunizations, they could face up to 20 day suspensions starting on February 17.
The suspensions would fall under the School Pupil's Act, which mandates -- with caveats -- that Ontario students be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, meningitis, whooping cough and chicken pox.
Scott Fry, a Peel Public Health spokesperson, told The News that the suspensions will take effect next month unless one of two things happen. One: that the students update their records or two: that the students officially opt out citing religious, conscience or medical reasons.
The opt-out part is interesting, mostly because of how broad it is. In the past few years, anti-vaccination hysteria has gripped small but significant populations of fretful naysayers. Vaccination fears, largely fueled by a discredited Lancet study that erroneously linked the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine to autism, have spiraled out of control and led to the resurgence of those very illnesses. In 2015, diagnoses of those formerly "dead" diseases (at least in the developed world) in Canada and the U.S. were the highest they'd been in two decades.
The anti-vaccination movement is becoming a formidable threat to public health, fueled by ignorant and emotional celebrity endorsements (Jenny McCarthy) and a misplaced distrust of the medical and scientific communities. Standard shots -- that provide great benefits and few complications -- are being challenged for a number of specious reasons. Some say that you can't trust evil pharmaceutical overlords and others say that vaccines are filled with rabbit brains and aborted fetus tissue (for real). Others say vaccinated children get more ear infections. The pseudoscience has picked up its fair share of converts and Ontario's vaccination rate is falling below the 85 to 97 per cent threshold, compromising herd immunity
While the threat of a school suspension sounds severe, students and their parents can indeed opt out for non-medical reasons. Kids who are afraid (or, more likely, whose parents are afraid) of vaccines can avoid them by citing religious or conscience objections. If people want to go down that path, they must submit affidavits completed by a Commissioner of Oath, a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace or notary public. In the event of a serious disease outbreak, unvaccinated students would, opt-out reasons notwithstanding; be suspended until the issue was resolved.
While Fry told The News that opt out numbers are small (less than one per cent), it looks like Ontario is taking steps to minimize vaccination delinquency even further.
According to a recent editorial in the National Post, families who want to shun vaccines might have to jump through a few more hoops. Next school year, parents who want to opt out for non-medical reasons will have to attend an info session held by their local public health unit. While parents can still say no to immunizations after the session, the free education might sway a few fence-sitters who have been inundated with lies from internet "experts" and that weird hippie in their yoga class.
So, Mississauga students, get those records up to date if you want to continue enjoying fun lunches with your friends.
And if you don't want polio.
Because who wants polio? Nobody.
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