TORONTO – A move to add 3.4 million newborn babies to the Canadian province’s immunization program – a move that also would see more kids fully covered by the administration of the common flu shot – will likely occur within weeks, according to the lead doctor overseeing Toronto’s vaccination program.
Dr. Samantra Prabhakar, who runs Toronto’s immunization program, confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday that the province’s chief medical officer of health has given approval for expanded immunization coverage, which will likely grant immunization for Canadian babies born after Sept. 1, 2018, approximately three months earlier than previously.
The announcement comes after politicians in Ontario and British Columbia introduced legislation last week to bolster immunization in their provinces, where 5 million children still haven’t been fully immunized. The bills are moving forward after announcing the bills receive parliamentary approval last week, though they are still open to a public review.
Though studies of vaccines have reported dwindling or even shrinking rates of several vaccine-preventable diseases, Prabhakar said the vaccines that doctors administer are effective in preventing diseases that haven’t been seen in decades.
Dr. Monika Naus, a senior scientist at the University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, told the Post on Monday that doctors in Canada must focus on the development of new vaccines and strong communications campaigns to push immunization – because the personal reluctance of some parents to vaccinate has caused disease outbreaks.
“We’re trying to engage communities, communities of color, communities with limited access to doctors and health clinics, and especially families with multiple children in the home, and get them to think about and talk about the importance of the protection of the whole family,” Naus said.
— Aaron Hutchins, James Nord and Anna Janiotis