Beginning this week, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) in partnership with local school boards, is providing school-based clinics for three routine recommended immunizations for Grade 7 students: hepatitis B, meningococcal conjugate (Men-C-ACYW) and human papillomavirus (HPV-9).
School immunization nurses will visit elementary schools throughout Simcoe and Muskoka from October to December to provide immunizations for round one of the three free vaccines for Grade 7 students. Information will be sent home with these students through the school in advance of school-based clinics. Students in Grade 8 who missed a dose and did not finish their vaccine series in Grade 7 will be caught up in round two, scheduled for April to June 2024.
“The school-based immunization program is an effective way to reach and vaccinate young people and prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases. These vaccines significantly reduce the risk of hepatitis B, meningococcal meningitis, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. The HPV-9 vaccine is important because it significantly reduces the risk of various types of cancers such as throat and cervical cancer and prevents genital warts.” said Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU’s associate medical officer of health. “Vaccination remains one of the best tools we have to protect youth against harmful diseases before they come in contact with them.”
The health unit advises getting immunized according to the publicly funded immunization schedule for Ontario. Having up-to-date immunizations helps to ensure that students have the best protection against serious vaccine preventable diseases, reduces the risk of outbreaks in schools and allows the health unit to act quickly to prevent and control outbreaks.
The health unit also reminds parents and caregivers that Meningococcal disease is one of the designated diseases under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) that requires children and youth attending elementary or secondary school be appropriately immunized against, unless they have a valid exemption. Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines are not required under ISPA but are strongly recommended.
For more information about vaccines that are given in Grade 7 and the diseases they prevent, please visit smdhu.org/Grade7. You can also speak with a public health professional by calling Health Connection, 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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