SIMCOE, February 26, 2015 The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit will be offering a series of immunization clinics in March at each of the local high schools to help ensure that all students are up-to-date with their mandatory shots.
Upon entering elementary school, Ontario law requires students to receive the Adacel vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, but the vaccine requires a booster after 10 years for continued protection. Typically, students are due for this booster between 14 and 16 years of age.
Menactra, a separate vaccine which protects against meningococcal disease, is now required for school attendance for students in Grade 7 – 12. Both Adacel and Menactra will be available for students at the school clinics. Menactra is only available from the Health Unit through clinics by appointment or school clinics but not doctor’s offices.
Letters were mailed out to students the week of January 19th. The letters included what immunizations the Health Unit has on file and what immunizations are required, along with the dates of the clinics at their child’s school. In some cases, students are current on their immunizations, but the Health Unit simply does not have the updated information.
The current immunization status is critical information for public health officials in the event of an outbreak in a school community. If there is an outbreak at a school, unimmunized students will be excluded from school until the outbreak is declared over by the Medical Officer of Health.
“Schools are a relatively contained environment, and if an outbreak of a disease were to occur it could rapidly spread between students and staff,” said Angela Swick, public health nurse with the Health Unit. “If and when such an outbreak occurs, we need to know which students aren’t protected.”
Students who miss the clinics may also receive the Adacel vaccine through their family doctor. However, there is no system that automatically forwards the information to the Health Unit. Parents are required to notify the Health Unit of the immunization so that the student’s records can be updated. This information may be updated by phone at 519-426-6170 ext. 3227, or online by visiting www.hnhu.org.
Parents may also request exemption for their children from the vaccination requirements on medical, religious or conscientious grounds, but proper signed documentation must be provided to the Health Unit in these cases.
Extra immunization clinics will also be held at the Health Unit’s Simcoe and Caledonia office locations, by appointment. To book an appointment, call 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.