Healthy Schools Department
Student Immunization Catch-Up Plan
In Ontario, the Immunization of Schools Pupils Act (ISPA) R.S.O.1990 requires children and adolescents attending primary or secondary school to be appropriately immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, meningococcal, varicella and polio, or have a valid Medical, Conscience or Religious Belief exemption on file at the Health Unit. As outlined in the Ontario Public Health Standards (OPHS), local public health units collect and assess immunization records for every student attending school, and provide provincially funded immunization programs through school-based clinics.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on local resources, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) was unable to implement immunization clinics at every school setting as in previous years. In order to support widespread availability of publicly-funded vaccines to protect children from Hepatitis B, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), and Meningococcal Disease (Men-C-ACYW135), the WECHU has been working collaboratively with local healthcare providers to ensure students continue to have access to these vaccines.
As of January 27, 2022 there are 7,953 ISPA based vaccines overdue for administration in the birth cohort years of 2004, 2008, and 2009. The overdue vaccinations for those in the 2004 birth cohort year (1,910) are of particular significance for catch-up before June 2022 due to the pending graduation from the secondary school making follow-up after this school year more difficult.
The WECHU began hosting catch-up immunization clinics for eligible students on Tuesday, March 8, 2022 to service families with children born between 2004 and 2009 that were not able to receive their immunizations at a school-based immunization clinic in the fall, or through their primary healthcare provider. Appointments for booking are available during the day, afternoons, evenings and weekends at Sears-Devonshire Mall (3100 Howard Avenue) or WECHUs Leamington office (33 Princess Street).
As part of this strategy, the WECHU prepared tailored communications to update students, families, and school board administrators regarding options available to students who are overdue and eligible for vaccinations. The catch-up clinics in March are the first set of student immunization clinics that the WECHU has planned for the year.
In May 2022, the WECHU will be re-visiting high-risk schools that received the first round of vaccines in the fall. Furthermore, additional community-based and in-house catch-up clinics are being planned for the summer to give families the opportunity to have eligible students immunized before the beginning of the 2022/2023 school year.
As part of this work, the WECHU will also be assessing immunization records for every student in Windsor and Essex County in the beginning of the 2022/2023 school year. Under the ISPA, the Medical Officer of Health may issue suspension orders to students who fail to become immunized and are not exempt as well as those who do not have up to date immunizations. With the successful implementation of this catch up plan, the WECHU is looking forward to returning to schools in the fall of 2022 to complete a single cohort of school-based immunizations.