As of September 2019, Toronto Public Health (TPH) will implement an important change in their consent for immunization policy. Secondary school students age 14 or older will be able to give informed consent to receive immunizations at TPH clinics hosted in TDSB secondary schools. Parental consent is still required for students younger than 14. Clinics in schools are usually offered when there is an outbreak or if a large number of students are at risk of the suspension because of gaps in their immunization record. Parents/guardians and students will be informed prior to the start of any clinic in a TDSB high school.
Reasons for this change include:
- Timely vaccinations when responding to an outbreak. Outbreaks of measles are occurring in North America. High vaccination rates will prevent and control outbreaks.
- Alignment with current practice in TPH community vaccination clinics where secondary students currently consent to vaccinations in these clinics.
- Reduction of student suspensions. In the 2017/18 school year 4,500 TDSB secondary students were suspended from school because they did not have up-to-date vaccinations. Allowing students to more easily access vaccines required for school attendance will reduce this number of suspensions.
- Supporting families who do not have a primary care provider or who may not have health insurance.
Parents will be notified in advance of any upcoming clinics at your child's school to ensure you are included in the decision making process. You will have time to discuss the issues with your child and health care provider before the clinic. Students will never be forced into vaccination.
Toronto Public Health nurses will obtain informed consent from each student before vaccinating. This includes:
- Asking students if they have discussed the vaccination with their parent. Students are encouraged to discuss the vaccine with their parent, including while at the clinic.
- If they understand the benefits and risks of the vaccine they are about the receive
- If they have any questions
The goal is to improve the health of students at school. This change is consistent with practice already in place in other GTA school boards, and the Health Care Consent Act. There is no legal age of consent in Ontario.
Please contact Toronto Public Health at 416-392-1250 if you have any questions.
Read the full letter from Toronto Public Health.