Hundreds of students suspended for having incomplete vaccination records

GUELPH – Many parents rushed to meet the deadline, as just eight high school students and 360 elementary students were suspended for not having their vaccination records up to date.

Danny Williamson, communications specialist for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH), stated in an email March began with 1,147 elementary students facing suspension, meaning 787 families stepped up before the March 20 deadline.

High school students had until Feb. 14 before the 20-day suspensions took effect.

WDGPH originally sent 2,400 letters to area high school students in November reminding them their records were not up-to-date and another 8,000 notices were sent in January to parents of elementary students in the same situation.

So the uptake is pretty good, Williamson said.

There are nine designated diseases under the Immunization of School Pupils Act that require proof of vaccination: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease (meningitis), pertussis (whooping cough) and varicella (chicken pox).

Students must be vaccinated to attend school according to the act. Parents who don’t want their children vaccinated must sign a waiver stating they are making the decision as a matter of conscience.

The nine designated diseases are highly contagious. If an outbreak did occur, unvaccinated students would not be allowed at school for their own protection.

WDGPH did not enforce suspension under the immunization act in 2022/23 due to the pandemic and has put extra effort into getting records up-to-date in the 2023/24 school year.