Why is childhood vaccination not mandatory in BC?...

Question: 

Why is childhood vaccination not mandatory in BC?

Answer: 
  • Mandatory immunization of children is not anywhere in Canada, including BC.
  • In BC, there is not a requirement to provide immunization records or documentation of valid exemptions to immunization to public health. Public health staff obtain immunization records of children through a voluntary process.  These records are entered into the immunization registry, and available for rapid retrieval when needed; the information is also used to remind children/ parents about needed vaccines.
  • In a voluntary process (current model in BC), when a large proportion of children have undocumented immunizations, this can lead to major disruption in a school when there is an outbreak. Standard public health control measures for measles, for example, require exclusion of non-immune children from school. Undocumented children are considered non-immune until proven otherwise.
  • In other parts of Canada, several provinces require immunization records or documentation of valid exemptions to immunization for attendance at school and/or childcare. Valid exemptions include medical reasons why a child cannot be vaccinated or parental objections, which can be due to religious or other reasons. 
  • Mandatory documentation of children’s immunization status results in more complete records. The benefits of having records of immunization of children in public health immunization registries are many. These include ability to recall children for scheduled vaccines, to monitor trends in vaccine uptake over time and identify vulnerable populations, and ability to act quickly in the event of an outbreak.

Immunization Nurse

Date last updated: 
Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019