This new education requirement seems to tighten restrictions around parents' refusal to vaccinate their children. (Photo: iStock)
The Ontario government has recently proposed new legislation that would force parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated, due to non-medical reasons, to attend an education session.
If this legislation passes into law, will this new requirement of forcing parents to attend an information session be likely to change the mind of a parent who is dead set against having their child vaccinated?
A two-year old study found that even where parents were given information to clear up misconceptions about vaccinations and their link to autism, it didn’t have any effect on changing the parent’s mind about vaccinating their children.
The new requirements don’t end there though. Under the new law, health care providers would have to report any vaccination they give to children or youth directly to the government. Previously, it was the parent’s responsibility to report their children’s immunization record. The new requirement would ensure a direct communication between the health care provider and the government.
This latest move by the government comes amongst increasing controversy about whether parents should be allowed to refuse to get children vaccinated at all.
Last year, the United States saw a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland and spread across seven states, which sparked an angry response from Pinal County, AZ Public Health Director Tom Schryer, saying "This is a case where a family that has decided to not vaccinate their children are experiencing the consequences of that decision in a very real way."
In Australia, a recent law appropriately called the “no jab, no pay law”, came into effect in January 2016. The law declares that if you don’t get your children vaccinated, you could lose childcare benefits. Australia moved to tighten immunization laws because the government was very concerned about “the risk non-vaccinated children pose to public health.”
Australia has had recent outbreaks of diseases like measles and whopping cough.
As the law stands now in Ontario, in order to attend school, children have to have proof of immunization against certain preventable diseases like whopping cough, tetanus, polio, measles and mumps unless they have a valid exemption (either due to reasons of conscience or religion).
This new education requirement seems to tighten restrictions around parents’ refusal to vaccinate their children, especially as unvaccinated children represent a public health risk.
It must be questioned whether the latest move by the Ontario government is moving towards mandatory vaccinations without exemptions in the form of “no jab, no school.”