Immunization Requirements for School
The Health Unit strongly recommends getting immunized according to the Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule for Ontario.
For your children to attend school in Ontario, they need to be immunized against the following infectious diseases:
- Meningococcal Disease
- Varicella (chickenpox) *proof of this vaccine is required for children born in 2010 or later.
What is the ISPA?
The Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) R.S.O. 1990 is a law in Ontario that helps to protect the health of children and our community. It gives directions for making sure that all school aged students are protected from vaccine preventable diseases.
- The act says that parents and guardians need to make sure that their school aged children are vaccinated according to the Ontario Immunization Schedule.
- The act says that when a vaccine is given to a child by a doctor or nurse, a record must be given to the parent or guardian.
- The act says that health units in Ontario have to maintain the vaccine records for all students attending school in their area.
- The act also gives a health unit’s Medical Officer of Health the ability to suspend students for up to 20 school days under specific situations:
- If health unit records show that a student’s up-to-date immunizations are not complete.
- Or if an official exemption (e.g., for medical, religious, or ethical reasons) is not on file.
What if my child’s record isn’t up to date?
Children aged 7 and 17 without up-to-date vaccine records or without a valid reason on file (e.g., official exemption paperwork, keep reading for more about this), may be suspended from school up to 20 school days.
Advanced notices will be sent out before students are suspended to give parents lots of time to submit updated proof of immunization.
If an outbreak occurs in your child’s school, children may be suspended who are missing information or have incomplete records with WECHU. It’s up to parents and guardians to provide vaccine records to their local public health unit. Health care providers aren’t required to do this.
Visit the Government of Ontario’s website for a copy of the ISPA.
What should parents do?
- Look at your child’s yellow immunization card. If you aren’t sure if your child is up-to-date on all their vaccines, check with your health care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
- Any time that your child gets a vaccine or booster shot you should update their record with the WECHU through any of the following ways:
519-258-2146 ext. 1222 or
toll-free at 1-800-265-5822 ext. 1222
- Secure Online Reporting System
Online Reporting System
- In Person
Windsor Office: 1005 Ouellette Ave.
Essex Office: 365 Fairview Ave. Essex
Leamington Office: 33 Princess Street, Leamington
What if I choose not to immunize my child?
Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 645, students must be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, meningococcal, varicella and polio, or have a completed Statement of Medical Exemption, or Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit on file at the Health Unit.
Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit:
Contact our Vaccine Preventable Diseases department at 519-258-2146 ext. 1222 for a Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit package.
The original affidavit form must be:
- Signed and stamped by a commissioner of oaths, notary public, or justice of the peace. Legal Aid provides notarizing services. Contact them at 519-243-7150 prior to visiting their office to obtain more information on hours and fees.
- The original must be returned to the Health Unit.
Contact our Vaccine Preventable Diseases department at 519-258-2146 ext. 1222 to request a Medical Exemption package to bring to your health care provider.
If your child cannot be immunized due to medical reasons, speak to your health care provider about completing the Statement of Medical Exemption.
The original exemption form must be:
- Completed by your health care provider.
- The original must be returned to the Health Unit.
Young children in group settings, such as daycare or schools, are at a higher risk of becoming infected with vaccine preventable diseases. If you choose not to immunize, be sure you understand the risks and responsibilities involved.
What will happen to my child during an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease?
- If your child is properly immunized for the disease identified in the outbreak, your child will be allowed to remain in school or daycare.
- If your child is not up-to-date for the vaccine identified in the outbreak, the Medical Officer of Health will determine if your child is at risk and may exclude your child for their own protection.
- Exempted children are at greater risk of getting ill during an outbreak. Most are likely to be excluded from school or daycare.
- If you have an exemption document on file, you’ll be contacted directly and informed that your child is excluded from school or daycare until further notice.
- The school and daycare administrators will also be contacted to help enforce the exclusion.
- If your child is exempted and you choose to have your child immunized, it may take up to two weeks before your child is allowed back at school or daycare.
Once the outbreak is over or your child has developed protection through immunization, you and the school or daycare administrator will be notified that your child may return.