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Students and the immunization schedule

Sep 16, 2016
Now that the dust has settled from the back-to-school scramble, parents are reminded of the need to ensure their school-aged children have their immunizations up to date.
Colin

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Dr. Colin Lee

Now that the dust has settled from the back-to-school scramble, parents are reminded of the need to ensure their school-aged children have their immunizations up to date.

At this time of year, it is important to ensure students’ immunization records have been shared with the health unit. At the same time, any vaccines still due should be arranged with their health care provider.

In the most recent review of immunization records, which involved 8 and 9-year-old students, a number of parents were informed that their children’s records were not up to date. Those children could face suspension from school if the records are not updated by October 6 this year.

In 2014 the Immunization of School Pupils Act was expanded and now includes vaccines to protect against three additional diseases: meningococcal disease, pertussis (whooping cough), and for those born 2010 and later, varicella (chickenpox).

For protection against meningococcal disease, students need two vaccines. The Meningococcal Conjugate ACYW 135 vaccine (Menactra) is offered at school in Grade 7, while the Meningococcal C vaccine, would have been given at 1 year of age.

In addition to Menactra, Ontario is offering two other vaccines to Grade 7 students at school that are not mandatory but are highly recommended; Hepatitis B vaccine & HPV vaccine. HPV vaccine has previously only been available to girls in Grade 8, but the program is shifting to Grade 7 and will now be offered to boys as well.

Girls in Grade 8 this school year will be offered the HPV vaccine as well to ensure they do not miss out. While there are no plans currently for a catch-up program for male students in Grades 8 to 12, the vaccine is recommended for this group.  Any male students in Grades 8 to 12 who are interested in the HPV vaccine should speak with their health care provider.

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is considered the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide and can lead to genital warts. Some strains of HPV can lead to cancers in both males and females. While HPV was once thought to be only associated with cervical cancer, more and more research is showing that it causes many other types of cancers such as anal, penile and oropharyngeal. Each year in Ontario HPV is responsible for 1,090 new cases of cancer, 254 HPV related deaths as well as over 14,000 new cases of genital warts in both males and females.

Also beginning this September, the publicly funded HPV vaccine is available for men who have sex with men (MSM) up to the age of 26 years. This includes gay, bisexual and trans people (i.e., those who identify as MSM). These clients can receive HPV vaccine by contacting their health care provider or the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Students or adults who would like to book an appointment to receive vaccines can contact the immunization program at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit at 1-877-721-7520, ext. 8807 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Dr. Lee is an Associate Medical Officer of Health with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit


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