City of Toronto staff were given two more weeks Thursday to make their decision on whether to end vaccinations in schools and daycares.
The school board said the review was needed in light of recent changes to Ontario’s school immunization rules. In a report released Thursday, city staff said the review would involve reviewing the information provided and all available evidence. The city is assessing the effect on the health and safety of the public if the unvaccinated were allowed into public spaces.
This week, Health Minister Eric Hoskins said any daycare, school or healthcare workers in Ontario who have not received their vaccinations were not allowed to work in schools or care facilities in the province. “If I had my way, we wouldn’t have children being away from home and sick,” he said.
The changes were made in response to new research that links a vaccine for whooping cough to one more whooping-cough-related death.
Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s leader, announced plans to enact the changes in December. But officials at the Greater Toronto District School Board said it would have been impossible to phase out vaccinations during this school year. Wynne said the review would be more thorough and last longer.
On Thursday, the York Region District School Board said it had already implemented the changes. It said that 92 percent of students at its schools and daycares had received their vaccinations. School boards are responsible for testing staff and students before they can start their jobs, but under Ontario’s changes any person who is unvaccinated would be banned from working at a child care centre or school. “For health reasons we are following the Minister’s direction,” said a letter on the board’s website.
There is also a provision in the changes for students who already have been vaccinated and have shown no signs of disease. But advocates of vaccination groups are calling for an exemption to be made available. A group called JANM (Joining Immunized Moms of York) said only children who showed symptoms of the disease — for example, a rash or fever — should be excluded from schools. It also called for an exemption to be made available for doctors and those who administer vaccinations.