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Suspension notices sent to 749 high school students

SIMCOE, ON, MARCH 27, 2009 – The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit mailed out 749 suspension notices today to Haldimand and Norfolk secondary school students who failed to get booster-shot vaccinations required by Ontario law.

“We’ve held free clinics at all of the schools and we’ve given ample advance warning through the schools and through the media that we were going to do this,” said Health Unit Clinical Services Program Coordinator Wendy Holmes. “These students have had plenty of time to obey the law. The Immunization of School Pupils Act gives us the authority to suspend these students and that same law requires principals to bar them from attending school.”

The students, who will receive the notices at home, have one last chance to get the booster shots before the suspensions take effect on April 14.

“If students get vaccinated between now and April 14, they’ll be able to stay in school, but they had better move fast,” Holmes warned.

The Health Unit is holding a vaccination clinic at its Caledonia office on April 1 and one at its Simcoe office on April 7. Students must phone to make an appointment at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623. Alternatively, the family doctor can give the booster, but the student needs to provide proof that the immunization took place.

The Immunization of School Pupils Act requires students to be immunized against certain diseases to attend school. On entering elementary school, students typically have received immunizations against tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella (German measles) and pertussis (whooping cough). However, booster shots are required after 10 years to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

The percentage of local secondary school students who were up to date with their immunizations fell from approximately 85 per cent in 2005 to 58 per cent in 2009. As a result, the Health Unit sent out notices and started holding booster-shot clinics in all of the secondary schools starting Feb. 23. At that point, close to 1,400 students were on the list for needed immunizations.

Media contact:
Wendy Holmes, Program Coordinator, Clinical Services Team,
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, 519-426-6170 Ext. 3152 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3152