Health care providers should be required to send their childhood immunization records to the health unit, says the Sudbury and District Health Unit.
During a meeting June 18, the health unit's board of directors voted in favour of a motion asking the province to amend the Immunization of School Pupils Act to require health care providers to send vaccine information directly to the health unit.
Under the current act, there is no such requirement.
“It is still the parents' responsibility to report all immunizations to the health unit,” said Lisa Schell, the health unit's manager of clinical services.
The Immunization of School Pupils Act requires all primary and secondary school students in Ontario to have proof of immunization against nine diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox.
Schell said the health unit sends out more than 5,500 letters to parents and guardians in Sudbury and the surrounding district each year, asking for proof of immunization.
Three weeks after the initial letter, the health unit mails out a second letter, reminding parents and guardians they have three weeks to get their children vaccinated – or send proof of their vaccinations – or they will be suspended from school.
Schell said some health care providers send the health unit that information, but many don't.
Preparing and sending thousands of letters ties up resources at the health unit that could be better used elsewhere, she said.
Each year, the health unit reviews more than 27,000 vaccination records.
Because the health unit's board approved the motion at its last meeting, the Sudbury and District Health Unit will send a letter to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, and to other boards of health, lobbying for an amendment to the legislation.