Province attempts to limit outbreaks in schools through proposed Bill 28
The Alberta government proposed Bill 28 Monday afternoon, in an effort to limit outbreaks of preventable diseases in Alberta schools, and help health officials deal with potential outbreaks more quickly.
Amendments to the Public Health Act were proposed Monday in Bill 28, legislation meant to help officials handle potential outbreaks of illnesses that could be prevented by immunization.
At this point, Alberta’s Health Ministry says it is missing vaccination records for about 15 to 25 percent of students in Alberta.
The legislation will have schools provide enrollment lists to the province, and those lists would be checked alongside public health records.
“And if there is an outbreak, we can act immediately, as opposed to now, it is very difficult for us to find out who is and who is not immunized,” Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said.
Out of the students who are not on record as having their immunizations, it’s believed some may have forgotten to have their child immunized, while other parents may have decided to not have their child or children immunized.
The province is hoping the conversation might convince parents who are on the fence.
“This gives parents a one-on-one opportunity to talk with someone who knows immunization in and out, and provide them that best evidence,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karen Grimsrud said.
Meanwhile, children who are not immunized will not be allowed to go to school if an outbreak takes place.
Liberal leader Dr. David Swann said he supports the legislation, but questions the resources needed.
“It’s going to take hours to work with parents who don’t want, or don’t trust, or aren’t sure of vaccinations, or are difficult to get ahold of,” Swann said.
Hoffman said she expects the bill to be in place in time for the 2017-2018 school year.
New Brunswick and Ontario have made vaccines mandatory for children attending school. Hoffman said the province wants Alberta parents to have a choice when it comes to vaccinations.
With files from Shanelle Kaul