As public health workers in Canada and around the world work to quell a new rash of measles outbreaks this winter, and as heated debated between pro- and anti-vaccine parents continue on social media – and in real life – a new poll has found that the vast majority of Canadians believe vaccinations against common diseases should be a requirement for children entering school.
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The poll, conducted by Angus Reid, found that 70% of Canadians were in support of mandatory vaccinations for school kids, 83% would vaccinate their children “without hesitation,” and 92% said that vaccinations are effective at protecting the overall community from diseases.
Still, the poll also found that 20% of respondents believe that vaccinations should not be mandatory, and should be left up to the discretion of the parents.
In addition, 29% of those polled said they believe the science around vaccinations “isn’t quite clear.”
And while more than four-in-five (83%) say they would vaccinate their children without hesitation, a significant segment – one-in-five who have children under the age of 12 (20%) – say vaccinations should be a parent’s choice, and not mandatory.
Further, 29% are of the view that the science on vaccinations isn’t “quite clear”; a finding that increases with the age of respondents, and 26% said they still are concerned about the risk of side effects of vaccinations.
Earlier this month, a Metro Vancouver woman started a petition to make vaccines mandatory in BC schools.
The petition states that as it currently stands, vaccine records are not required for children to enrol in schools.
The current policy, she writes, “is that if there is an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, those without vaccines are requested (but not forced to) stay home.”
The biggest problem with this, however, “is that most of the diseases (chicken pox, measles etc) have a 10-day incubation period in which the patient can be contagious without showing symptoms.”
This, she explains, “puts our weakest children (cancer patients, immunocompromised) at great risk.”
She notes that the number of outbreaks continues to increase each year, and writes that “it’s time to get back to eradicating these preventable diseases and protecting our province.”
“We parents, friends and family of the students of British Columbia request to amend our current enrollment policy to include mandatory vaccinations – except with medical exemption.”
At the time of this writing, the petition had received over 35,000 signatures.