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Board of Health Meeting Notes Feb. 15, 2012

Feb 22, 2012
High marks for vaccine use in Simcoe Muskoka; School boards get their own education on public health

High marks for vaccine use in Simcoe Muskoka

In a review of a cluster of schools in the region, more than 95 per cent of children in Simcoe and Muskoka were immunized against measles, mumps and rubella in the 2009-2010 school years.

That’s part of the picture in a report released to the Simcoe Muskoka District Board of Health last week.  

The report, one of a series of health status reports that compile statistics on population health in the region, also indicates that over 90 per cent of children aged 7 to 17 had been vaccinated for pertussis, tetanus, polio and diphtheria.

Some vaccine preventable diseases remain a top cause of severe illness, though. The report states influenza, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus and streptococcus pneumonia are among the top 10 infectious diseases causing death and disability. And when doubt is cast on the safety of vaccines, such as occurred when a now-discredited research article on the measles vaccine appeared, vaccine rates have dropped. In Europe in the years following that 1998 article, 60,000 cases of measles broke out among those children who had not been vaccinated.

Mary Ann Holmes, the supervisor of vaccine preventable diseases, told the board of health that the report was distributed to local doctors and has been well received. She was pleased that some doctors even requested more copies of the report to distribute to their patients. It is hoped that the report will reassure families of the safety and value of immunization, she said.

School boards get their own education on public health

A myriad of different services from the health unit are available to schools in Simcoe and Muskoka, all tailored to the provincial curriculum. The programs are optional, and each school responds differently to what’s available.

Cathy Thomson, the manager of the healthy schools program, told the board of health that each school board is now receiving an itemized accounting of the initiatives that have been run in their schools.

“The reports bring relevance to school boards about the programs available from the health unit,” Thomson said. She explained that historically, the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board had been receiving a summary report of health unit activities, and that a year ago the health unit’s healthy schools advisory committee recommended the practice be expanded to all school boards.

Five public health nurses work directly with the schools to implement the healthy schools program.

“Schools are our best opportunity for us to impact the health of school aged children,” said Joyce Fox, director of the healthy living service with the health unit.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the board of health takes place March 21
at 9:15 a.m. at the Barrie office, 15 Sperling Drive.

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