needleThree additional vaccines will be required for students attending school this fall. Effective July 1, changes to the Immunization of School Pupils’ Act (ISPA), which outlines immunizations needed by students to attend school, will now include vaccinations for whooping cough, meningococcal disease and chickenpox.

This is in addition to the existing requirements of immunization against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps and rubella.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is highly contagious and commonly affects infants and young children, resulting in violent, uncontrollable coughing, difficulty breathing, and can cause severe complications. In Ontario, the vaccine is combined with routine childhood vaccines.

There are different strains of meningococcal disease that can lead to brain, spinal, lung and blood infections. Since 2004, the meningococcal type C vaccine has been given as part of routine childhood vaccinations. Students born in or after 1997 must have one dose of vaccine for meningococcal types A, C, Y, W-135. This vaccine has been given to Grade 7 students since 2009.

Chickenpox (varicella) is a mild infection typically occurring during childhood. Although most cases do not progress, complications can include pneumonia, encephalitis, flesh-eating diseases, and other infections. The vaccine has been part of Ontario’s routine immunization program since 2004. In 2011, a second dose of the vaccine was added for 4-6 year olds. Children born during or after 2010 attending school this fall must be immunized or in the process of being immunized with two doses of the chickenpox vaccine.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to review their child’s immunization record before school goes back in September to be sure their child is fully vaccinated, unless a valid exemption is issued. 

For further information, call Public Health at 519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 or visit our website at www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca.