Map of Simcoe Muskoka


Vaccine Coverage for Diseases Preventable by Routine Childhood Immunization (ISPA)

Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA), all students attending primary or secondary school are required to provide proof of immunization against nine infectious diseases (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease, and varicella (chickenpox)). Children for whom the public health unit does not have required immunization records or a valid exemption may be temporarily suspended from school until the required records are provided. Exemptions may be for rare medical reasons identified by a physician or a personal decision notarized by a Commissioner of Oaths.

The health unit obtains the most accurate data for calculating vaccine coverage, by conducting targeted immunization surveillance in partnership with schools. This data is then used to enforce suspension for incomplete records. At this time, immunization information is not automatically provided to the health unit from doctors’ offices or schools.  It is a parent/guardian’s responsibility to provide immunization data to the health unit.

The health unit is required to report vaccine coverage for the designated diseases to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Simcoe Muskoka

Coverage Trends


Technical Notes

Simcoe Muskoka

The figure below shows the percentage of Simcoe Muskoka children ages 7 and 17 years across the region in public and private schools who were vaccinated against childhood diseases in the 2016-17 school year. The health unit conducts annual surveillance on 7/8 year olds and 16/17 year olds to ensure compliance with ISPA.

The coverage for these diseases is between 83% and 92% for 7/8 year olds. Rates for 16/17 year olds are similar or higher, with the exception of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). A ten-year booster for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) is recommended between the age of 14 and 16 years which may account for the lower Tdap coverage rate in 16/17 year olds. Meningococcal disease immunization is provided once at 12 months of age for conjugate C and again in grade 7 (12/13 years of age) for conjugate ACYW-135. For Grade 7 immunization rates, please see the Grade 7 school immunization program.




Coverage Trends

The graphs below show the coverage rates for each immunization required under ISPA over time, in children aged 7/8 years for each school year, with the exception of varicella – which will be introduced in 2017. The national targets for the majority of diseases under ISPA are 99% coverage. Meningococcal disease’s coverage target is 90%. Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) coverage has remained relatively stable in the 7/8 year old cohorts in the past but dipped below 90% in the 2016/17 school year. Coverage for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) as well as polio has increased over the past five years but also dipped below 90% in the 2016/17 school year. Meningococcal disease coverage has fluctuated over the past five years but has remained above the national target for the past three years.













For the number of vaccine preventable diseases in Simcoe Muskoka, see the HealthSTATS page on vaccine preventable diseases.


In Simcoe Muskoka, exemptions had remained stable in the 2000s at 2-3% of all children. However, slight increases have been observed in recent years. In 2016-17 school years, 3.6% of 7-year olds and 3.5% of 17 year olds had an exemption for at least one required immunization. The majority of these exemptions are for philosophical reasons, rather than medical reasons.

Unvaccinated children are at risk of getting serious diseases so parents seeking information about exemptions should access reliable, evidence based sources such as:

Technical Notes

As explained on the Vaccine Coverage page, the health unit strives to maintain accurate immunization on all school children in Simcoe Muskoka. However, there is a small percentage of students in suspension schools for which the health unit does not have information. Consequently, the sum of the coverage plus the exemption percentages may not equal 100%. The above coverage rates are estimates, based on the most recent data available to the health unit.

Proof of immunization against meningococcal disease became a requirement in the 2014-15 school year.

National Targets were set by the National Immunization Strategy.

Coverage rates do not include students with an exemption. While these students are in compliance with the Immunization of School Pupils Act, they are not immunized against the disease(s) in question.