The Alberta Party said, if elected to government this spring, it would require children to have all their vaccinations in order to attend publicly-funded schools.
“This is a public health issue, plain and simple,” Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel said in a statement.
“Parents should be able to send their kids to school without fear they’ll contract serious illnesses such as measles, mumps, whooping cough and polio.”
The pre-election promise comes as several communities grapple with measles, including several cases in Vancouver and an outbreaks in Inuvik, Washington State and the Philippines.
“At a time when measles outbreaks are rising throughout the world, and even occurring in Canada, it’s more important than ever that our children and communities are protected,” Mandel said.
The Alberta Party said in order to register their child to attend a publicly-funded school, parents would need to provide proof that the child’s immunizations are up-to-date under Alberta Health Services’ routine immunization schedule.
The requirement would apply to all elementary, junior high and senior high schools that receive public funding, including separate school boards and Charter schools.
“We send our kids to school to learn, not to get sick,” Mandel said.
A survey released last month found 70 per cent of Canadians believe in mandatory vaccinations for children entering school.
The Angus Reid Institute study found an even higher number of adults, 83 per cent, say they would vaccinate their children without hesitation. But 24 per cent say vaccinations should be a parent’s choice rather than mandatory. More than nine in 10 Canadians say they believe vaccines are effective.
Immunizations not only protect children themselves against disease, but are also important for herd immunity.
Some people cannot be vaccinated — including infants under six months of age, people with certain underlying health conditions and those undergoing chemotherapy — meaning they must rely on high levels of immunity within their communities to prevent infection with the virus.
British Columbia is moving towards mandatory vaccines.
Last week, that province’s health minister said parents would be required to register their children’s immunization records at school by the fall, with all students in both public and private schools required to provide proof of immunization against measles and other diseases.
The Alberta Party said details around the implementation, such as medical exemptions and the list of required immunizations, would be developed “in consultation with Alberta’s medical community and with a view to models used in other jurisdictions.”
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