VOTE: Should vaccination be mandatory in schools?

A universal flu vaccine would protect against all strains of the virus and be durable for multiple years – if not a lifetime.

Manitoba’s school boards have voted against lobbying the provincial government to make vaccination mandatory for all children in the province’s schools.

On Friday, the Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA) rejected a motion put forward by Linda Ross, chair of the Brandon School Divison’s board of trustees. Ross said she was concerned about an increasing number of parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

But a clear majority of MSBA delegates voted against Ross’s motion.

If the motion passed, it would have asked the MSBA to lobby the province to make immunizations mandatory against nine illnesses including polio, measles and mumps for children attending provincially-run schools.

In 2014, Manitoba’s Annual Immunization Surveillance Report found just six out of 10 Manitobans aged seven had been given the vaccine doses required for their ages, according to CBC News. That report contains the most recent data on provincial immunizations, the network reports. Of those surveyed, 67 per cent had been given the recommended vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The data indicates 84 per cent of children that same age had been vaccinated against polio, and 75 per cent against measles.

In a statement to The Canadian Press, the Manitoba health ministry said educating people about immunizations is more effective than mandatory vaccination.

There has been a rise in cases of measles, mumps and whooping cough over the last five to 10 years in Canada, according to Global News.

Vaccination is considered the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases through the creation of herd immunity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nevertheless, there has been plenty of opposition to vaccination throughout history.

There are religious groups who are against vaccinations, and people who are opposed to mandatory vaccination because they say it hampers their individual rights, freedoms and choices. There are also those who question the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. In recent years a controversy has arisen linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism. This was spurred by a fraudulent paper originally published in the medical journal The Lancet, which has since been retracted. But the damage was done, and in the United States, one in four parents still think vaccines cause autism.

But what do you think? Should vaccinations be mandatory for children attending school? Should parents have the ability to opt their child out? Vote in the poll above and let us know your comments below.

With files from The Canadian Press