Vaccine coverage is the percentage of individuals in a specified group who are vaccinated against a certain disease. The Ontario Immunization of School Pupils Act states that children attending school in Ontario must be vaccinated against diphtheria, measles, mumps, poliomyelitis, rubella and tetanus, or have a valid exemption. Exemptions may be for rare medical reasons identified by a physician or a personal decision notarized by a Commissioner of Oaths. This Act exists to protect the health of individuals and groups. High vaccine coverage leads to herd immunity, which protects us all. For the number of vaccine preventable diseases in Simcoe Muskoka, see the HealthSTATS page on the incidence of diseases preventable by routine childhood immunization.
The Vaccine Coverage section contains the following pages:
Vaccine coverage for diseases preventable by routine childhood immunization
Influenza vaccine coverage
Reporting Immunization Information:
The Immunization of School Pupils Act also requires the health unit to keep immunization records for children attending Simcoe Muskoka schools. This information is crucial to preventing further spread when there is a case of a vaccine preventable disease in a school. Unvaccinated children may be excluded from school for a period of time to help protect them and prevent a larger outbreak.
In order for the health unit to maintain accurate records, parents of school-aged children must notify the health unit every time their child is immunized by anyone other than health unit. Unfortunately, one quarter of Simcoe Muskoka children have incomplete immunization information on record. Children can be suspended from school for not providing the health unit with up to date information. For more information on how to report, see the health unit website on reporting immunization information.
When enough people are immunized against a disease, it is very difficult for that disease to spread to those who are not immune. This is known as ‘herd immunity’. Since no vaccine is 100% effective, it is essential that as many people as possible get immunized not only to protect themselves but also to protect others. Those who choose not to immunize risk the health of not only their children, but also the health of children who can not be immunized due to illnesses, allergies, or age (less than one year), and those who were immunized but did not develop immunity. Figure 1 displays this concept.
Figure 1: Herd Immunity
Source: U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases