84 students suspended in Chatham-Kent over incomplete immunization records

Needling continues over who should give flu shots

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit has suspended 84 students because of incomplete immunization records.

Suspensions began Monday, with 158 elementary and secondary school students being told they couldn't come to class until they could prove they had received vaccinations, according to Dan Drouillard, a member of the health unit's immunization team.

"We're pretty happy," he said. "We mailed out about 2,000 letters in January and to be down to 158 we're down to the last five per cent that may be outstanding."

Suspensions won't be lifted until new records are on file or exemption paperwork is filled out, he added.

About 700 Grade 11 and 12 students in Windsor-Essex were suspended in February because of incomplete records.

Health units across Ontario are required to maintain immunization records for students and can ask boards to issue suspensions to parents in order to ensure their children keep their vaccines up to date.

In order to attend school, students have to show proof of immunization against meningococcal disease, whooping cough, chickenpox, tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps and rubella.

About four or five per cent of students in Chatham-Kent have filed for exemptions based on medical or religious grounds, according to Drouillard, who added he hopes all of the kids can be back to class soon.

"We're hoping the rest will clear up quickly, but there are always a few stragglers that are harder to catch up," he said.