Ontario opens up vaccination information bookings for younger children

Sales will be open to anyone age six months to six years old who wants to learn more about vaccinations The Ontario government is opening up its Vaccination Information Week on Tuesday to younger…

Ontario opens up vaccination information bookings for younger children

Sales will be open to anyone age six months to six years old who wants to learn more about vaccinations

The Ontario government is opening up its Vaccination Information Week on Tuesday to younger children in the province.

The announcement is part of a public relations campaign by the governing party to promote the benefits of immunization. There will be a one-day information session Tuesday at the Victoria Park Health Centre in Toronto featuring a host of public health experts and health services employees, Ontario public health minister Christine Elliott and Brad Butt, co-chair of the provincial committee on immunization.

The campaign also includes an interactive series of videos on Facebook featuring children and their parents. And the launch of a Child and Youth Vaccination District offers an online portal for parents of children up to six years old who want to learn more about vaccines.

Jeremy Springby, editor of the provincial Journal of Public Health, said the province had no choice but to open the vaccine bookings, though he added that the campaign represents only a small portion of what the government is doing to increase vaccination rates.

“I wish there was some more government action than just to open up bookings in the next two days,” Springby said. “The reality is, given the population and the cost of vaccines, we need to spread out outreach so we’re not just in Victoria Park.”

He said the initiative would make the best use of resources and the Premier Doug Ford should invite local hospitals to the bookings “so they can put their staff and resources into the most effective way they can.”

The campaign has so far been ridiculed on social media and criticized as being ineffective.

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The Leamington flu vaccine, for example, is made in China and it is not supposed to be used by children under two. Even though the vaccine can be used to protect children under two, and of that age a small fraction of the population, a number of parents oppose its use because they say children can be too young to need the vaccine.

“At its heart the effort is ridiculous,” said Gary Hammer, executive director of advocacy group Vaccine Freedom Day, based in Abbotsford, British Columbia. “I’m not going to say it won’t work. If it worked, it wouldn’t be the stupidest thing we’ve done. It would be just about right. The province of Ontario is the third-most diverse population in the world and not everyone will be comfortable with an agenda that has inserted vaccines into children’s lives when they are too young.”

Hammer said he agreed with the team of experts behind the Vaccination Information Week, which he said promotes an information campaign. He said the province should instead be working to reduce the barriers to vaccination that parents of families living in poverty face.

State-run schools in Australia have found that vaccinations can reduce levels of measles by more than 90%

Peter Harch, president of the Canadian Vaccination Network, said this campaign was being conducted during “a moment when there’s a lot of anxiety about vaccination in particular”.

Harch said: “It’s great that we’re seeing a little bit of activity and attention to the subject, but we need to address the real issues – and those issues are a lack of government accountability, lack of capacity to respond to outbreaks and need for information and accuracy.”

According to the Canada Centre for Disease Control, Ontario rates have been declining in recent years. Public health officials believe that parents are worried that vaccines can cause birth defects. The vaccination of the boy who was believed to have been the first case of an infant’s brain defect in Alberta is under investigation.

The Immunization Certificate Act, made law in 2005, requires medical, dental and vision records to be maintained by schools and mandating that everyone immunized for immunization sign a certificate and submit it to their doctor. Harch said the act was a good starting point, and he added that parents needed to know that they have to give their children a shot and not a vaccine that contains a needle.

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