Over the last two years many of us have fallen out of our routines. Priorities shifted and schedules were interrupted as everyone tried to make the best of an unprecedented situation. One particularly important routine that may have been disrupted is your child’s immunization schedule.
Public Health assesses and provides required immunizations to school-aged children as per the Immunization of Students Pupils Act (ISPA). Many of these vaccinations are given to your child by their healthcare provider or by public health before they begin school and follow a Provincial immunization schedule based on your child’s age. However, COVID-19 may have affected this schedule. In fact, in WDG alone, 12,000 students are currently behind on their immunization schedule. So, let’s get your kids back on track.
To help students get up to date with their immunization schedule, WDG Public Health is offering immunization appointments at Public Health and school-based clinics. If any of the times, dates or locations don’t work for you or your child’s schedule, you can also reach out to your child’s healthcare provider to receive any of these vaccines.
Grades K-12 catch-up clinics
WDG Public Health is offering clinics for children from K-12 to receive vaccines they may have missed due to COVID-19 or other reasons. These clinics will be hosted by WDG Public Health over the March break, with some additional limited appointments from February to June. Call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006 to book an appointment, or book your appointment online and select a “Grade K-12” appointment at one of the following locations:
- Guelph Public Health office - 160 Chancellors Way
- Orangeville Public Health office - 180 Broadway
- Fergus Public Health office - 490 Charles Allan Way
- Palmerston-Minto RHC - 450 Whites Road
More dates and locations may be added based on demand. Check the appointment booking system regularly for updated information.
Grade 7/8 clinics
In April and May, WDG Public Health will be providing Hep B, HPV, Meningococcal vaccines to grade seven students and grade eight students who may have missed these vaccinations due to COVID-19. Visit wdgpublichealth.ca/ISPA for school clinic dates, they will be added in the coming weeks.
Of these three vaccines, the Meningococcal vaccine is the only ISPA mandated vaccine. Hep B and HPV are considered “school program” vaccines meaning they are not mandatory for school attendance but are highly recommended for long-term health and protection (more on this later).
High school clinics
In February and March, WDG Public Health will be in high schools throughout WDG offering the Tdap booster (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis), as well as any ISPA or school program vaccines (HPV and Hep B) that students may have missed. Visit our website for a list of dates and schools.
If your child is currently learning remotely, they may not attend school-based clinics. Please contact your primary care provider, or make an appointment at public health online or by calling ext. 7006.
School Immunization FAQs
How do I view or update my child’s immunization record?
You can report your child’s vaccines in one of the following ways:
- Online: The Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) tool available at immunizewdg.ca allows you to report and view your child’s immunization record.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4396
- Mail: Vaccine Records, 160 Chancellors Way, Guelph, Ontario N1G 0E1
It’s very important that parents and caregivers make sure their child’s immunization records are complete and up to date with WDG Public Health. Check to make sure whether your child’s healthcare provider is reporting your child’s immunizations to public health. Healthcare providers are not required to report immunizations to Public Health, so it’s your responsibility to ensure records are up to date.
If you are unsure if your child has received a vaccine and it is not on record with WDG Public Health, please reach out to your child’s healthcare provider for this information.
We received a letter that said our child(ren) is behind on their immunizations. Will they be suspended?
No. Due to the disruptions many experienced due to COVID-19 WDG Public Health will not prohibit your child from attending school if their immunizations are not up to date for the 2021-22 school year. However, it is highly recommended that students attend one of the upcoming clinics at their school, book an appointment at WDG Public Health, or through their healthcare provider to get up to date as soon as possible.
What vaccines are mandated by ISPA for school attendance?
Under the ISPA, without a valid exemption (more on this below), students in Ontario must be immunized against:
- meningitis (meningococcal disease)
- whooping cough (pertussis)
- chickenpox (varicella) – required for children born in 2010 or later
Is it true that the HPV and Hep B vaccines can prevent cancer?
The Hepatitis B and HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccines are offered to grade 7 students free of charge. While these immunizations are not mandatory under the ISPA, it is strongly recommended that children receive these vaccines for long-term health and protection. HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine can protect your child from developing several types of cancer in the future including cervical, penile and head or neck cancer. The Hep B vaccine prevents Hepatitis B infection and liver cancer, which is associated with chronic Hep B infections.
Your child is eligible to receive the HPV vaccine any time between grade seven and twelve (male and female students born in 2004 or later) and you can book an appointment at one of our catch-up clinics to receive it. There is also extended eligibility for female students who graduated in the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school years (born in 2002 or 2003). Once students are no longer eligible for the vaccine to be publicly funded, you have the option to pay to receive it or in some cases it may be reimbursed by your insurance plan.
What about exemptions? Who is eligible?
Exemptions for immunizations may be granted for:
- Religious or Conscience Reasons
- Medical Reasons
Each type of exemption has different forms and requirements that must be completed before the exemption is granted. Visit Exemptions for School Immunizations for more information.
I have more questions. Who can I talk to?
If you have any questions about your child’s immunizations, you can call 1-800-265-7293 ext. 7006 to speak with a public health nurse or talk to your healthcare provider.