Interior Health has issued a reminder to the parents of schoolchildren about its new vaccination status reporting regulations.
In a letter to parents and guardians, the health authority notes new regulations were brought into effect by the provincial government on July 1, 2019, that support the gathering of immunization records. The regulation applies to all students in the province, including those who are home-schooled, but not those attending schools in First Nations communities.
Over the coming months, Interior Health staff will be checking the immunization records they have on file for most children. The families of any children with missing or incomplete records may be contacted by the health authority and asked to provide the immunization records, the letter states. Contact from Interior Health may only mean that information is missing from their files, not necessarily that the children whose families are contacted are missing vaccinations.
A representative of Interior Health said contacting parents of children who have not been immunized will give the health authority an opportunity to have further discussions about the importance of immunization. They added that records in a provincial registry will allow them to quickly find out if a person is immunized or not. An example of the way the records will be used provided by Interior Health is that of a child being treated for a serious cut. According to the health authority, an up-to-date vaccine registry would allow the child’s health-care provider to see if the child’s tetanus vaccine is up to date or if a booster dose is required.
In the event of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak at school, children who are not immunized may be asked to stay home from school until it is safe for them to return.
“This is important to help protect children from getting sick with a vaccine-preventable disease and spreading the disease to others – including children who cannot be immunized due to medical reasons,” an email from an Interior Health representative reads.
They added that under B.C.’s School Act, a medical health officer has the power to remove a student from school whose health condition could put the health or well-being of other students at risk. This would include children who aren’t immunized and are at risk of catching vaccine-preventable disease and then spreading it to others.