Taking a Pass on Childhood Vaccinations

Anti-vaccine fears are like those photos on cigarette packages. Unnerving. WHO, the World Health Organization, places “anti-vaxxers” among the top 10 health threats in the world. What in the world is going on?

Top Three Questions About Vaccines

Now that COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind, vaccines are in the spotlight again. The pandemic vaccine is up to 18 months away (and that’s the fast-tracked version). The obvious questions are:

  1. Do vaccines work? 
  2. Are side effects harmful? 
  3. Are vaccines really necessary?

No, vaccines don’t cause autism. That rumour is linked to a false 1998 study that has since been discredited. 

Before Vaccines, Polio Paralyzed and Killed

Dallas lawyer Paul Alexander has spent 68 of his 74 years using an iron lung. Alexander was six when he caught the polio virus. After years in an iron lung, he was able to adapt his throat muscles to breathe, representing clients in court by standing upright in an adapted wheelchair. At 74, he is once again confined to an iron lung. Alexander counts himself lucky. Polio paralyzed or killed 600,000 annually worldwide before a vaccine was found.

Famous Polio Victims

Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin remembers the polio epidemic of 1953. He got polio playing in dirty water in a ravine. “The fellow beside me said, ‘That’s an iron lung and that’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life,” Martin recounts. Actor Mia Farrow did spend time in an iron lung before recovering. Former Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley and violinist Itzhak Perlman still use leg braces and crutches because of the terrible virus. 

Vaccines Do Work

They can attest to the power of vaccines to kill bacteria and viruses. Dead or weakened germs from vaccines create antibodies that memorize germs and fight back if you get sick. Boosting your immune system means germs are destroyed early on, before they can do serious damage. While age, well-being and your immune system can affect if a vaccine is effective, if you do get sick after being vaccinated, recovery is usually quicker.

Why Vaccines Are Necessary

Every child gets scrapes and wounds while horsing around outside. Tetanus from dirt, dust or garden manure that gets into a wound can cause life-threatening muscle spasms that break bones and last for weeks. Vaccines like the tetanus shot ward off germs so your kids are safer playing outside or with others.  

Isn’t Herd Immunity for Cows?

It’s for humans too. Getting vaccinated lowers the risk for you and everyone around you. Ninety per cent of Canadian children are vaccinated before they go to school, but why take chances? The more people who are vaccinated, the more people who are immune. 

Immigration, Travel Spread Disease

Ouch, measles lingers in the air for up to an hour after someone sneezes. Watch out if you travel or meet migrants from other countries. An unvaccinated 11-year-old who visited Vietnam is credited with a 2019 measles outbreak in Western Canada. Fortunately, vaccines can protect you and your child from illnesses like measles, mumps or tetanus that have no cure.

High Risk, High Stakes

The stakes are especially high for those who are too young or old to easily fight off infections or have other illnesses:

  • infants under two, who aren’t fully vaccinated
  • seniors 65 or older
  • people with weak immune systems from chemotherapy or illnesses like lupus
  • those with severe allergies or blood infections like sepsis
  • and people who can’t be vaccinated because of other health problems.

9 Vaccines Your Kid Needs for School

A flu shot while pregnant will protect your baby for the first six months of their life. Regular shots and boosters are needed as they age. Ontario day care centres and schools require proof kids between four and 17 are vaccinated for: 

  1. Diphtheria
  2. Tetanus
  3. Polio
  4. Measles
  5. Mumps
  6. Rubella
  7. Meningococcal Disease
  8. Pertussis (whooping cough)
  9. Varicella (chickenpox), if they were born in 2010 or later.

Local public health units can tell you where to get vaccinated and give you a schedule of when vaccinations are due. 

Opting Out for Medical Reasons

You can opt out of vaccines for medical reasons by having a physician or nurse practitioner complete a statement of medical exemption. Take the exemption to your local public health unit.

Conscientious or Religious Objectors

If you object to vaccines for conscientious or religious reasons, you will be asked to attend an education session that includes information on vaccines and their safety, laws and community health. Bring the vaccine education certificate you receive by attending to a commissioner of oaths to get a signed statement of conscience or religious belief. Submit the form to your public health unit or licensed daycare centre and keep a copy for yourself. 

Get a Statutory Declaration of Exemption

Axess Law’s Ontario commissioners of oaths witness statutory letters of exemption from childhood vaccinations. Licensed commissioners are available 7 days a week, day or evening, via online video call. Dial 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to make a video conference appointment. In person meetings are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s commissioner of oath services.