Shelley Martel Urges Government To Act To Protect Children From Deadly Diseases


NDP Health and Long-Term Care Critic Shelley Martel urged the McGuinty Liberal government to immediately implement measures to ensure that Ontario children have up-to-date vaccinations.

“A new study indicates that one in three toddlers has not received the recommended shots against childhood illnesses despite an average of 19 doctors’ visits in the first two years of life,” said Martel.  “This is distressing because young children are particularly susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, and may end up having more health problems later on in their lives as teenagers and adults because of this deficit.”

The study by the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) – published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics – looked at the physician billing records for 101,570 infants born in urban Ontario between July 1997 and June 1998.  Children were considered to have up-to-date coverage if they had at least five immunizations by the age of two.  The study didn’t include newer vaccines for chicken pox, meningitis, and the flu.

“This study highlights a huge shortfall in childhood vaccinations in Ontario which must be addressed by this government,” said the Nickel Belt MPP.  “Simple measures that could be adopted include reminding family physicians about the importance of regularly-scheduled vaccinations and producing a pamphlet in different languages for distribution in doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics, Community Health Centres, day care centres, and schools.”

Dr. Astrid Guttmann, a scientist and the lead author of the study, also recommended investing in electronic health records so immunization can be more easily tracked and parents sent reminders.  She also felt that designing an “immunization champion” in each medical practice should achieve higher immunization rates.

“This is one of the first studies to track such a large number of children,” said Martel.  “It’s important for the McGuinty Liberal government to take this study seriously and to act on it in a timely manner so that we can stem the tide of Ontario children falling through the cracks.  Basic childhood vaccines are free and one of the most cost-effective interventions.  There’s absolutely no reason for low vaccination rates in Canada ’s universal health care system.”

Health Canada ’s target is a 95 percent immunization rate for the 2 and under group.


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