“Vaccines prevent serious illnesses — including many that are easily spread in schools and daycare centres. For more than 200 years, vaccines have been saving lives around the world” (Ministry of Health, 2023).
Vaccines have been administered to young children for many generations, preventing serious illness and disease in children and their families in Canada and around the world. Some families may choose not to vaccinate their child for medical, philosophical, or religious reasons. These practices were present amongst families prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic but during the recent pandemic a lot of misinformation was shared about Covid-19 vaccines through social media channels. This resulted in public health developing additional messaging to support families in understanding the value of vaccinations for their young children.
Educators support families in accessing sound resources to ensure families are making the most informed decisions for their children. Families are diverse, with different worldviews coming together in learning spaces for young children. Educators must be knowledgeable about the legislation around immunizations and potential exemptions from immunizations for children. “As such, vaccine hesitancy is a multifaceted phenomenon influenced by various social, cultural, and political contexts; vaccine hesitant people are a heterogenous group in that they may refuse some vaccines, but agree to others; for this reason, vaccine uptake is not directly related to vaccine hesitancy and it can vary by specific vaccines involved” (Lee, et al., 2022). It is essential that educators become familiar with resources available through their local public health units. These resources can be readily shared with families when they have questions about immunizations or other health related matters.
Please watch the following video:
Video: Tara’s Story: Getting Vaccinated Can Help Keep You and Your Family Safe by ONgov [0:52].Transcript available on YouTube.
35. (1) Every licensee shall ensure that before a child who is not in attendance at a school or private school, within the meaning of the Education Act, is admitted to a child care centre it operates or to a premises where it oversees the provision of home child care, and from time to time thereafter, the child is immunized as directed by the local medical officer of health. O. Reg. 137/15, s. 35 (1); O. Reg. 126/16, s. 24 (1); O. Reg. 254/19, s. 8 (1).
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply where a parent of the child objects to the immunization on the ground that the immunization conflicts with the sincerely held convictions of the parent’s religion or conscience or a legally qualified medical practitioner gives medical reasons to the licensee as to why the child should not be immunized. O. Reg. 137/15, s. 35 (2); O. Reg. 126/16, s. 24 (2).
(3) Objections and medical reasons under subsection (2) shall be submitted in a form approved by the Minister. O. Reg. 126/16, s. 24.
(Ontario Regulation 137/15, under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014. © King’s Printer for Ontario, 2015)
Immunization records are requested by licensed child care operators during the enrollment process. Any licensed agency, including licensed home child care, will need to ensure a copy of each child’s immunization records are kept on file to be reviewed by public health or the Ministry of Education. Families are expected to keep immunization records up to date with their child care providers and their local public health units. If these dates are not maintained, families will be notified of missing immunization records. In some cases, children may be excluded from child care or suspended from school due to unreported vaccines or exemptions.
Families and health care practitioners are guided by the Ontario publicly funded vaccine schedule for the appropriate timing for each vaccine. The vaccine schedule will be discussed with health care practitioners during a child’s ongoing health care visits. The following vaccines are required for enrollment in a licensed child care centre or licensed home child care:
- Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio;
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella;
- Haemophilus Influenza Type B (HiB);
Review the following:
- Routine Publicly Funded Vaccine Schedule for Healthy Children from the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. A PDF/Printer Friendly Version is also available.
Read the following resource for families regarding immunizations for young children:
- Immunization – Babies and Preschool Children from Middlesex-London Health Unit
Some children may be exempt from vaccines for medical reasons or for their family’s philosophical or religious beliefs. In non-medical circumstances the family must complete an affidavit upon enrollment with a copy kept on file at the child’s licensed child care or at the child’s school. Vaccine exemptions for medical reasons require the family to provide their child care provider with a doctor’s or nurse practitioner’s completed statement of medical exemption form. A copy of this must be kept in the child’s file at child care.
Read the following resource to understand more about immunization record maintenance and the process for vaccine exemptions:
- Immunization Record Review from Middlesex-London Health Unit