Toronto’s health department sees 1,320 ‘cheap and easy’ exemptions to mandatory vaccinations

After extensive testing, Toronto’s health department has confirmed that only 1,320 of its about 14,500 employees have not submitted mandatory vaccinations for two months or longer, a number the health department describes as a…

Toronto's health department sees 1,320 'cheap and easy' exemptions to mandatory vaccinations

After extensive testing, Toronto’s health department has confirmed that only 1,320 of its about 14,500 employees have not submitted mandatory vaccinations for two months or longer, a number the health department describes as a “tiny” amount.

Each department within the health department requires 1,000 or more employees to confirm their vaccine status.

The total number of non-viable vaccine applicants in this city has, to date, been “essentially zero,” according to the Toronto Health Department. The health department only found out this week about a computer glitch at Toronto Public Health that had cast doubt on the vaccination status of some employees. But as of Monday, those affected had been notified.

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“The response and acceptance of vaccine is a high priority,” Dr. Kelly Gorman, director of immunization, said in a statement. “We have a broken system that is unacceptable and this solution will ensure we keep our community protected and the data we need to be confident in what is in our immunization system is reliable.”

For children who have not yet received the two-dose series of vaccinations that they need for the varicella vaccination required for the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) shot, children aged five and younger can get a third dose of the vaccine. Both doses are required for the hepatitis B shot and the varicella vaccination.

In April, Toronto city council voted to mandate children receive two doses of the varicella vaccination in order to attend daycares, sports and other activities. The second dose would not be required until the child’s eighth birthday.

Most health departments waive vaccination waivers in light of an outbreak. Toronto City Council had recommended that parents be required to provide an updated vaccination status before allowing their children to enrol in sports activities.

In September, Canada’s national public health agency recommended to doctors and parents that their clients be wary of varicella vaccination waivers, given the concerns from doctors and the risk posed from the virus.

In a letter to Vancouver public health officials on behalf of the Canadian Society of Public Health Physicians, or CSSPHP, last month, Ramin Mostaghim, the president of the CSSPHP and director of public health at Brock University, requested that the Canadian and Alberta provinces and territories’ public health officers “investigate what positive steps would be needed to … ensure that the public health consequences of waivers would be minimized.”

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