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Parents Who Are Against Vaccines Would Have to Take an Education Class Under Proposed Law

The Short of It

Ontario parents may now have to take an educational class if they want to go the anti-vaxxer route.

The Lowdown

Just like in the United States, kids in Ontario, Canada, need a certain set of vaccines before entering school. Parents can opt out; however, they must file a signed medical, religious or philosophical exemption and provide an "affidavit instruction letter" that notes which vaccines their kids won't be getting.

Easy peasy. But now new legislation has been introduced that, if passed, would require all parents seeking exemptions to complete an education session that will outline the risks of having a child skip the shots.

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"Choosing to vaccinate your child protects them from disease, and it protects vulnerable children who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons. That's why it's important for parents to keep their children's immunizations up to date," said Eric Hoskins, minister of health and long-term care, in a statement. "If passed, the proposed amendments to the Immunization of School Pupils Act would help parents and guardians make informed decisions about vaccination."

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The number of parents objecting to vaccines in Ontario hovers at around 2 percent—which is admittedly low when compared with, say, some parts of California where the exemption rate is as high as 10 percent. But 20 percent admitted to being "hesitant" about vaccines, according to The Canadian Paediatric Society. And there have recently been a large number of cases of measles, chicken pox and whooping cough in Ontario, with health officials pointing the finger at an increase in unvaccinated children as the cause.

The Upshot

Personally, I think this class would be an amazing idea. My son contracted a nasty case of chicken pox back in March—even though he got both the vaccine and the booster—and my doctor also pointed to the growing crop of anti-vaxxers as a possible culprit.

And while vaccinated kids who do get breakthrough cases of pox are supposed to have less severe cases—fewer blisters, lower fever, faster recovery—I am not exaggerating when I tell you my kid had over 200 spots all over his body, including inside his ears and up his nose.

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He missed 13 days of school. I can't help but wonder if it could all have been prevented with the proper education. Public health officials in Ontario are worried that diseases like measles and chicken pox are making a comeback due to fear of vaccination. Could a class help alleviate some of this fear? I certainly don't think it would hurt.

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