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Report calls for scrapping exemptions to student vaccinations

Last Updated Sep 17, 2019 at 10:40 am EDT

A report by Toronto’s medical officer of health is calling on the provincial Ministry of Health to scrap the philosophical and religious exemptions currently allowed for student vaccinations.

The World Health Organization identifies the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate, despite the availability of vaccines, as one of the top ten global health threats and a growing concern in this country.

In Canada, it’s estimated that 20 per cent of parents have questions about vaccines and go to the internet looking for answers, instead of talking to their doctor.

The report — requested by the Board of Health — recommends a number of strategies to respond to vaccine hesitancy that involves government agencies at the provincial and national level as well as healthcare providers, parents, educators and students.

Along with removing exemptions, the report recommends asking major search engines and social media platforms to adopt measures to reduce misinformation about vaccines.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen De Villa says research shows vaccine-hesitant parents are mainly concerned about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and often have trouble identifying credible evidence-based information sources.

“An informed dialogue between parents and their child’s health care provider is critical for helping parents make decisions about their child’s vaccinations,” she said in a release. “This is why we are providing doctors and nurses with evidence-based vaccine information to help facilitate these important conversations.”

The report will be presented to the Board of Health meeting next Monday.

WATCH: Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health with Toronto Public Health, discusses their efforts to combat ‘vaccine hesitancy.’