British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix says mandatory vaccination status reporting could be in place in the province by September.
Dix told reporters Tuesday that mandatory reporting is a goal of his ministry.
He says the requirement has been under consideration since it was recommended five years ago by B.C.’s chief medical health officer.
B.C. Teachers Federation President Glen Hansman welcomes the initiative but wonders how schools will be prepared to handle the information.
He says it is crucial for the province to be able to track who is vaccinated and who is not, and be able to intervene if necessary.
Public health officials are warning of a significant outbreak of measles with 15 cases of the highly infectious disease recorded in Metro Vancouver.
Two new cases were reported Wednesday and most of the illnesses are linked to two French-language schools in Vancouver after an unvaccinated child contracted the disease during a trip to Vietnam.
Unlike Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba, B.C. does not have a law requiring mandatory vaccinations for measles.
While the reporting of vaccination status will be mandatory, Dix says the province intends to continue with voluntary immunizations for childhood diseases.
Considering many parents still choose to opt out of vaccination programs, Hansman says the province must now decide who has the power to intervene when unvaccinated children are at school and an outbreak occurs.
“Certainly nobody at the school level is necessarily qualified to be making those sorts of determinations. If the health authority was involved or the school district had a clear legislative tool that they were able to use, not to be punitive, but to be able to make sure that the student body as a whole is safe,” Hansman says.
The BC Centre for Disease Control website shows that, on average, 88.4 per cent of youngsters in the province have had their second dose of measles vaccine, but coverage levels fall as low as 70.8 per cent in the Kootenay Boundary region.
Experts say 90 to 95 per cent of the population must be immunized against measles in order to guarantee so-called herd immunity, which is the resistance to the disease that results when a sufficiently high proportion of the population is immune through vaccination.
Files from The Canadian Press.