Statement from David Swann: mandatory choice on vaccines

EDMONTON, AB (March 19, 2014): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement on mandatory choice on vaccines for school enrollment:

“Over the past several weeks I have called on this government to take action on a simple question of public safety: mandatory choice on vaccines for school enrollment.

“When faced with this issue the government has simply offered platitudes about the importance of vaccinations, but it refuses to show real leadership.

“It says it needs to consult with school boards and parents to ensure their rights aren’t infringed upon. Of course, this was the same argument it used against gay-straight alliances, which it later proved was inappropriate when it came to protecting the safety of our school children.

“And that is exactly what vaccines do.

“Ensuring our school children are immunized from these diseases not only protects them, but those around them who may not be able to be immunized, such as new born infants or those with allergies.

“In fact, school immunizations are a great way to protect the whole community from children and the vulnerable to senior citizens.

“Under our policy, Alberta would join four other provinces that require either proof of immunization for students registering in a public school or mandatory choice, which would require a formal decision be made by parents.

“While exceptions are made for those that cannot be vaccinated or those with religious or other objections, the result is, that once faced with a choice, parents often opt for protecting their children.

“The Minister of Health claimed provinces with mandatory choice provisions have lower vaccination rates, but he is wrong.

“Newfoundland has mandatory choice and its immunization rates for major diseases is the highest in the country.

“Newfoundland has a 95.5 % immunization rate for Mumps, Measles and Rubella, Alberta rate is only 74%.

“Newfoundland has a 96.5% immunization rate for Meningitis, whereas almost a 1 in 5 Albertans are not immunized from this life-threatening disease.

“While no one would be forced to take any vaccine, an informed decision should be made.

“The discomfort my conservative colleagues have with this issue is obvious, but the need to address this issue is real.”