The announcement comes after vaccination rates have dropped in Ontario schools
The Ontario government has come under fire for not making a number of vaccines available to children who do not meet eligibility requirements.
On Friday, Toronto city council passed a motion urging the Ontario government to require children to meet an income threshold to get flu vaccinations to ensure adequate coverage.
A report published by the Ontario government in March said that the number of schoolchildren attending schools that provide full immunization coverage had fallen to “woefully inadequate levels”.
The data shows that 11 of the 25 school districts in the province lack full immunization coverage for at least one individual vaccine.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said at the time that the “fall off [of vaccination rates] is most worrying in the fall because we have pockets of the city that are completely under-vaccinated.
“In many of them we have children coming in who are totally unimmunized in most cases, the kind of story that you get from various smaller communities” he said.
Stony Brook University vaccine researcher Dr Simon Doctor told the Guardian that it’s concerning that the inoculations aren’t available to eligible children because the lower vaccination rates have implications for the wider community.
“In general, vaccine coverage as a whole is declining. When you have fewer vaccinated, you have a higher risk of infection” said Doctor.
The city of Toronto has also run in to legal trouble for non-compliance with the Immigrant Women’s Protection Act in recent years.
There has also been an “extraordinary spike” in measles cases in Toronto this year, according to Dr. David Heymann, the director of the WHO’s department of health security and innovation.
Heymann said that due to continued declines in vaccination rates, populations of susceptible children are “flooding the hospitals” and making “barely detectable numbers of measles cases larger than they should be.”
“We are on the verge of being faced with another measles epidemic, which would cause us to look at vaccine policies in another light,” said Heymann.
Health Canada said that high immunization rates are crucial for the safety of all Canadians, including children.
“Vaccines work best when people who are due to receive them are immunized,” said a spokesperson for Health Canada.
Health Canada said that vaccines “are an invaluable tool to protect children and people of all ages, including pregnant women and people with health conditions, against common and serious illnesses, including many infectious diseases.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Canadians over the age of one can get three or four doses of flu vaccines free of charge through their province’s public health programs or through their health care offices.
“We recommend all individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated. They are more likely to have success in preventing serious illness, spreading diseases, and spreading influenza than if they are unvaccinated,” said a spokesperson for the CDC.
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The Association of Medical Colleges (AMC) said that countries facing serious outbreaks of measles want to make immunization a prerequisite for enrollment in their international students exchanges and clinical programs.
“Enrollment requirements should be based on household income levels, and when the goal is to have the lowest possible vaccination rate among kindergarten children there should be no financial barriers,” said an AMC spokesperson.
• This article was amended on 26 March 2019 to clarify that CDC recommends international students be immunized.