Health Minister Adrian Dix.
Nick Procaylo / PNG
B.C. has promised a vaccine registry for school kids. But will it be as tough as Ontario’s vaccination law?When B.C. moves to a “mandatory registration” system for immunization of children against measles and other diseases, anti-vaxxers will be in for a rude awakening. It will mean parents will be required to prove their kids have been immunized before they can register for school.And if an anti-vaxxing parent is absolutely determined to not immunize their child, they’ll have to jump through a lot of hoops to do it.That’s the word from Health Minister Adrian Dix, who said B.C. wants to bring in a system like the one in Ontario, which has Canada’s toughest vaccination laws.“In Ontario, it’s essentially mandatory to be immunized. If not, you have to go through some significant processes to avoid that,” Dix said, adding B.C. is looking closely at what Ontario has done.“It would function in a similar way,” Dix told me. “At the moment of school registration, you have to either show that the child has been immunized or, if that’s not the case, you have to go through a process to explain why.” In Ontario, an anti-vaxxing parent must complete a “Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief” form and have it witnessed by an “Affidavits Commissioner.” The parent must also go through a 30-minute “Immunization Education Session” with a public health officer, who explains the medical risks of not vaccinating. The parent has to supply proof they attended the session.If an anti-vaxxing parent goes through all those steps, then the child would be allowed to attend school.Why not just make it illegal for unvaccinated kids to enrol in public schools? After all, a new opinion poll says 70 per cent of Canadians want vaccines to be mandatory. Dix said it’s because of a little thing called the Constitution and the inevitability of a Charter challenge in court if the government went down that road.“Then it doesn’t become an issue of public health. It becomes an issue of litigation. No one wants that,” he said, adding it’s an extremely serious step to keep a kid out of school. “We don’t want to make them pawns in these discussions.”How quickly could B.C. bring in an Ontario-style system? Dix told me he thinks it can be fast-tracked though cabinet-ordered regulations, not requiring any new legislation to be passed in the legislature. He also pointed out B.C. has been studying the idea for some time after the province’s former medical health officer, Perry Kendall, recommended a mandatory vaccination registry five years ago.All of which makes you ask: Why wasn’t this done a long time ago? Especially after earlier serious outbreaks of measles in 2010 and 2014? That’s when the Liberals were in power, of course.But that didn’t stop Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson from insisting the NDP government should be doing more now to get kids vaccinated and prevent the spread of measles. Wilkinson called on the government to make post-exposure vaccines free and more widely available for unvaccinated people exposed to the virus.Kind of makes you wonder why the Liberals didn’t do more when they had the chance. For now, it’s time for the government to toughen up B.C.’s vaccination firstname.lastname@example.org/MikeSmythNewsCLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com.