A small group of anti-vaxxers protested B.C.’s mandatory vaccination reporting Saturday in Nanaimo.
This year, the B.C. government approved a vaccination status reporting regulation requiring parents to report the vaccination status of all school-age children, starting this September.
According to the government agency Immunize B.C., mandatory reporting not only provides information for health authorities, but also prompts parents to check that their children are up to date with immunization and allows health officials to talk to families about the importance of immunization to the health and well-being of their children and the community as a whole.
Fewer than two dozen adults were gathered at Maffeo Sutton Park for Saturday’s protest, which Crystal Galisky, a local organizer, said was more of an assembly.
“This is not an anti-vaxx protest. We have people here that selectively vaccinate and some people that vaccinate but basically we are standing up for our rights and freedoms because they are being challenged right now,” she said.
Asked about the rights of families for their children to be protected from preventable diseases, Galisky said since people’s bodies respond differently to vaccinations, blood testing would provide more useful health information for the government than vaccination reporting. She said mandatory vaccination would discriminate against those who want choice around vaccination.
Vaccines available in Canada can protect children against 14 serious diseases, and most childhood vaccines provide greater than 90 per cent protection against the disease, notes Health Canada. High vaccination coverage in the population helps to create “herd immunity,” a level of resistance to a disease only achieved when large enough groups of people are immunized.
There have been 29 confirmed cases of measles in B.C. so far this year. The surge in spreading of the highly contagious, air borne disease prompted the government to launch its catch-up vaccination program in mid-April.
The province’s target is 95 per cent immunization through the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Immunization is not mandatory in Canada. Ontario and New Brunswick are the only other provinces that require proof of immunization for children to attend school. Parents can seek an exemption on religious or conscientious grounds.
-files from Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press