Manitoba school boards vote against push to have all school children vaccinated
A person is vaccinated against yellow fever at a public hospital in Brasilia, Brazil on Jan. 9, 2008. (AP / Eraldo Peres
WINNIPEG - Manitoba school boards have overwhelmingly voted against lobbying the provincial government to make vaccines mandatory for all children going to school.
"I believe I have the right, as every other parent has, to chose whether or not their child will be vaccinated," one delegate said during the Manitoba School Boards Association annual convention on Friday.
The motion was put forward by the Brandon School Division. Linda Ross, chair of the division's board of trustees, said she was concerned because an increasing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids.
"I understand 'my kid, my choice,' but unless you are living in complete isolation, I think we have to look at the greater good. What are we doing to the larger population?" Ross said.
"If you choose not to vaccinate your child, it's not just your child who is at risk. It's a lot of other people who are at risk."
The motion asked the association to lobby the government for legislation making immunizations for nine illnesses - including polio, measles and mumps - mandatory for children going to school. There would be exemptions for medical reasons.
After the motion was put forward, Ross told delegates that schools can play an important role in declining vaccination rates.
Multiple delegates from different school divisions responded with concerns about parental rights and teachers' obligation to educate all children.
A clear majority of the 200 delegates voted against the motion.
"We have a responsibility to educate all children, so what happens to children who are excluded from school due to their parents' choice to not vaccinate them? Do those children no longer have a right to be educated?" a delegate asked.
It's the second time the division has unsuccessfully put forward a motion about vaccinations.
The health minister's office said in a statement that educating people about the importance of immunization is more effective than mandatory vaccinations.