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High school students about to receive a boost

SIMCOE, FEBRUARY 10, 2011 – Thousands of high school students across Haldimand and Norfolk will be rolling up their sleeves to receive their ten-year booster vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). The Haldimand-Norfolk Health unit will be holding clinics at each of the area high schools over the upcoming weeks to provide immunization to the more than 3,500 eligible students.

Students starting elementary school typically have received immunizations against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). However, booster shots are required for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis ten years after the preschool immunization. Adacel®, a combined vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, allows students to receive the necessary immunizations with a single injection.

“We typically provide immunization clinics in all secondary schools each year, but the burden of providing extra flu clinics during last year’s H1N1 flu season meant the Health Unit didn’t have the resources to offer the school clinics last year,” said Wendy Holmes, Clinical Services Program Coordinator with the Health Unit. “That means we’ll be providing clinics for students who are eligible for the vaccine as of this year, as well as catching up last year’s cohort.”

The Immunization of School Pupils Act requires Ontario students to have up-to-date immunizations before they can attend school. However, parents have the option of exempting their children from the vaccination requirements by completing a ‘Statement of Medical Exemption’ or a ‘Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief.’

Some students may have already received the vaccine through their family doctor, but then failed to notify the Health Unit. Students or parents are encouraged to check with their family doctors to see if they have received the booster, and if the booster has been received updated information may be faxed to the Health Unit at 519-426-4767. Individuals may also update their immunization record on-line by visiting the Health Unit website at www.hnhu.org.

One-day clinics will be held at each of the ten area high schools during school hours between February 24th and March 9th. Every eligible student received a notice and consent form by mail in January outlining which day the clinic will be at their respective school.

In addition to the school clinics, the Health Unit will also be offering extra clinics in the Simcoe and Caledonia Health Unit offices on April 14, 15, 18 and 19th. Students who miss the clinics may call the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623 to book an appointment. Students may also visit their family doctor to receive the Adacel® vaccine.

“Although we have the authority to issue suspensions, the Health Unit would rather not enforce the suspension process,” noted Holmes. “Our focus is on protecting students and all residents of Haldimand and Norfolk counties against these potentially dangerous diseases that can be prevented by a vaccine.”

Adults are also reminded to update their tetanus, diphtheria (Td) vaccine every 10 years. Residents are encouraged to contact the Vaccine Preventable Disease Team at 519-426-6170 if they have any questions.

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Media contact:

Wendy Holmes
Program Coordinator, Clinical Services
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3152 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
wendy.holmes@hnhu.org