Written by: Kerri Hutchinson, Region of Waterloo Public Health
COVID-19 has impacted many programs and services across a number of organizations. As our pandemic response escalated in March 2020, Region of Waterloo Public Health suspended enforcement of the Immunization of School Pupils Act and postponed the routine school vaccine program to redeploy staff to pandemic response.
As part of the routine school vaccine program, Public Health nurses visit each of the 120 schools in Waterloo Region to administer the mandatory vaccines for grade 7 students: Hepatitis B, HPV, and Meningococcal vaccines. In a typical school year, the program runs from October to June and takes the full school year to complete for each grade 7 cohort. Given that there are three cohorts of students who are currently eligible and have not started or have not completed their immunizations, Public Health developed an innovative model to complete three years in one.
Building off the success of mass immunization clinics used throughout the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, Public Health will be hosting two fixed site clinics, one in Cambridge and one in Waterloo to administer vaccines to three cohorts of eligible students approximately 18,000 individuals. The clinics will run five days a week, with evening hours available for families Monday through Thursday.
“It was imperative for us to resume the routine school vaccine program to ensure all eligible students in grade 7, 8, and 9 receive and complete their immunizations against Hepatitis B, HPV, and Meningococcal disease,” said Kristy Wright, manager of the Vaccine Preventable Disease program. “Switching the service delivery to fixed, mass immunization clinics ensures that we have the capacity to immunize all eligible students in one year.”
Immunization leads to improved health in individuals and the general population. Vaccines help save lives and prevent serious illnesses. Working to ensure routine immunizations are kept up-to-date is an important part of protecting the health of your child and family.
Students and their families will be notified of the routine school vaccine clinics through their schools and information about the clinics is available on the Public Health website.