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

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.

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“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.

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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.

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