Ontario is experiencing higher rates of medical exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine than anticipated, the chief medical officer of health said on Tuesday.
At a press conference, Dr. Kieran Moore told reporters that the typical rate of legitimate medical exemptions is about 1 to 5 per 100,000. In Ontario, he said there are reports that exemptions are 1 to 2 per 100.
“To me, that does seem high, and we have to have physicians and nurse practitioners better aware of what the true medical exemptions are,” he said.
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The 1% to 2% exemption rate he refers to comes from what the province is reporting from employers and sports leagues.
He said that the main reasons for a medical exemption would be a severe allergic reaction, or myocarditis or pericarditis. The rates of severe allergic reactions are 1 in 100,000.
“[Allergy] should be confirmed by an allergist and even the allergist, when they assess patients, have found that they’re able to give a second dose safely to those individuals who thought they had a severe allergic reaction,” said Dr. Moore.
The expected medical exemption rate for those who experience myocarditis or pericarditis varies a bit more and is more prevalent among younger populations. The rate is about 1 to 5 in 100,000.
“I think it deserves a review, and certainly we’ve tried to educate physicians, nurse practitioners who fill out these forms to ensure that they are aware of the two major medical exemptions for these vaccines,” he added.
The forms to document medical exemptions for the vaccine require the nurse or physician to document the exact reasoning for the exemption, how long the exemption should last, and the licensing and contact information for the nurse or physician who completed the forms.
“I want to ensure that all Ontarians have the benefit of protection, of immunization, and a false medical exemption or an incorrect one bypasses our ability to protect them,” Dr. Moore said.