Loading articles...

B.C.'s education minister says mandatory vaccines not an option

Last Updated Feb 21, 2019 at 9:59 am PDT

FILE:A person gets a shot during a flu vaccine program in Calgary on Oct. 26, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Summary

Despite a petition calling for mandatory vaccines, B.C.'s education minister says it's not possible

Rob Fleming says offering vaccines at schools could help increase immunization rates

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — You can’t bring peanuts to school but you can bring the measles — there have been eight cases in Vancouver this month.

As a petition to make vaccinations mandatory grows to nearly 35,000 signatures, the B.C. government says it’s not an option.

Education minister Rob Fleming says vaccinations can’t be mandatory, but offering vaccines at schools could help increase immunization rates.

Related stories:

Students asked to stay home during measles outbreak

Low vaccination rates in wealthier Vancouver-area neighbourhoods

‘Completely preventable’: doctor examines how to get anti-vaxxers on board amid measles outbreak

“Measles is a very serious disease. One that was nearly eradicated in places like Canada and to see it coming back now I think we need to reassess some of our policies,” he says. “Whether we can increase immunization rates among children – not just measles but other communicable diseases – and whether we can improve that through regulation is something that we will take a look at.”

He says beyond religious reasons, there are parents who haven’t vaccinated their children because it has not been convenient for them, and using the school system could make it easier to boost immunization rates.

WATCH:  Petition for mandatory vaccinations hits 30,000 signatures

However, he says, there are other factors to consider.

“You have to look at capacity: can this be done equitably around the province, is the health authority in the position to respond and work with the school system our government has other considerations as well,” he says.

Flemings says discussions about going this route are underway, and says he they are talking about modelling the Ontario program that regulates that schools keep track of student vaccinations.