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Health unit will push province to require that health care providers report immunizations

A Grade 7 student receives a routine vaccine that covers human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis at a vaccination clinic at Bicentennial School in Dartmouth, N.S., in July 2020. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)
A Grade 7 student receives a routine vaccine that covers human papillomavirus, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis at a vaccination clinic at Bicentennial School in Dartmouth, N.S., in July 2020. (Craig Paisley/CBC - image credit)

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is advocating for the province to streamline the process of reporting immunizations.

At a board meeting Thursday evening, members agreed to send a letter to the province asking that it look at having doctors and nurses report all vaccinations directly to the health unit.

Right now, parents are responsible for making sure that their child's most up-to-date immunization record has been shared with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU).

But often, that leads to delays or gaps in the reporting. When this happens, students are at risk of suspension.

"If this happen in real time with the physicians or health-care provider who does on time, I think that reduces the missed opportunity in terms of reporting and it's more streamlined in that sense," said Windsor-Essex's medical officer of health Dr. Mehdi Aloosh.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, pictured in a Jan. 19, 2024 file photo.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, pictured in a Jan. 19, 2024 file photo.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, pictured in a Jan. 19, 2024, file photo. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

The Ministry of Health did not respond to a request for comment.

The provincial government had previously looked to have doctors and nurses report all immunizations, but that was put on hold in 2018 after Doug Ford's government took over.

Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, students need to be kept up to date with vaccinations or else they could face suspension.

As of March 1, WECHU said in a news release that 860 students were being suspended for up to 20 days or until their records were updated. Earlier this week, that number dropped to 61 students.

In November, the health unit warned more than 11,000 elementary and secondary school students were identified as having missing or incomplete records.

"Based on the threats to the public, it's time to bring it to the board and ask for approval for that," Aloosh said.

WECHU has said that parents are able to update their child's records by:

  • Entering the information and proof online at immune.wechu.org.

  • Ask the child's family doctor to fax the missing information to WECHU.

  • Bring a physical copy of the child's record to WECHU to be updated.