TDSB chair asks Ontario government to add COVID-19 vaccine to list of required shots

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Alexander Brown, the chair of the Toronto District School Board, has asked that the COVID-19 vaccine be added to the list of compulsory vaccines for eligible students to return to school. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)
Alexander Brown, the chair of the Toronto District School Board, has asked that the COVID-19 vaccine be added to the list of compulsory vaccines for eligible students to return to school. (Jane Robertson/CBC - image credit)

The chair of the Toronto District School Board has asked the Ontario government to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for eligible students at public schools.

Alexander Brown made the request in a letter Friday addressed to Education Minister Stephen Lecce, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore and Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.

As students prepare to return to schools across the province this month, the COVID-19 vaccine is not required for students to attend in-person classes. Children who are over 12 are currently eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but only about 64 per cent of children in the 12-17 age group have received two doses, the lowest rate out of all age groups.

The Toronto District School Board passed a motion last week to create a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination procedure for all TDSB staff, trustees and visitors to disclose and provide proof of their vaccination status, Brown's letter stated.

"In keeping with this, we are asking that COVID-19 vaccinations be added to the list of compulsory vaccinations for all eligible students," he wrote.

"This would further protect our students, staff and their families from the virus and help keep our schools open, which is of the utmost importance to the learning and well-being of our students."

Brown also said the request is supported by the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA), an organization that represents English public district school boards and public school authorities across Ontario.

Cathy Abraham, the president of the OPSBA, said in mid-August that they support the government's review of the Immunization of School Pupils Act to decide whether to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the compulsory vaccination list.

"We encourage them to move forward on this important change," she wrote in a statement at the time.

Starting in the early 1980s, Ontario has mandated that students be vaccinated against diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus and measles before they can attend school.

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