High school students suspended over immunizations
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Tuesday, April 5, 2011 7:07PM EDT
Nearly 800 students in Waterloo Region faced suspensions on Tuesday because their immunization records were not up to date.
The suspensions could see some students out of class for the next three weeks.
Region of Waterloo Public Health says students were warned in September and reminded again in February. Now they must enforce a provincial mandate on immunization.
Cambridge student Samantha Bishop was one of the people who received a letter from Public Health and was sent home from class by her vice principal.
Bishop says "She had a list full of people who were getting sent home today and then she gave me a bus ticket so I could go home."
It's a troubling time for families, and especially for the teens that now face missing weeks of classes.
"I really want to keep going to school because it's overwhelming when you miss day…It's stressful, it adds more stress to my life and to my mom's life," Bishop says.
Bishop's mother Rose Antoine says "I just don't agree with them kicking children out of school over an immunization."
But the school board says it's following orders from Public Health, and Public Health says it's enforcing provincial law.
Linda Black is the manager of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases program for Waterloo Region. She says they are not in the business of suspending kids.
"We're in the business of protecting the community and this is our way of making sure all records are up to date and in the case of an outbreak we know what students are at risk and we can take immediate action."
Antoine says it's not that simple, "We had every intention on getting her [vaccinated] but due to the doctor shortage we were having problems getting a family doctor."
Black recommends visiting a Public Health clinic to help get students back to class quickly, "We prefer that they come to us at this point because we can give them the relevant documentation to get back into school."
A number of students were able to get immunizations immediately and should be back in class by Wednesday.
Meanwhile immunization clinics will continue to be held all week in Waterloo and Cambridge in an effort to get more students vaccinated and back in school.