Vaccination for children is the law
Vaccines save lives and prevent serious illnesses such as measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio and tetanus.
Although we rarely see most of these diseases in Canada, they still exist and can cause death, especially in children. If we stop vaccinating children, these diseases will return.
Vaccines help the body make its own protection, known as antibodies, against these diseases.
Ontario law requires all children to be vaccinated before they can go to daycare or school. The law is designed to protect children from disease outbreaks.
Children in Ontario now need proof of immunization against three additional diseases before they can attend school:
- Meningococcal disease
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Varicella (chickenpox) required for children born in 2010 or later
The Public Health Agency of Canada has produced a useful booklet called A Parent’s Guide to Immunization.
The city’s health department, known as Ottawa Public Health, conducts reviews of children’s vaccinations.
If your child’s vaccinations are not up to date, or proof of vaccination is not available, Ottawa Public Health will contact you to get your child vaccinated by a specific date. If vaccination is not completed on time, your child will be not be allowed to attend school until the necessary vaccinations have been received.
If you decide not to immunize your child due to medical, religious or philosophical reasons, you must have special legal permission from Ottawa Public Health. For any questions related to vaccines or your decision not to vaccinate, please call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 to speak with a public-health nurse.
Any time your child gets a vaccination or booster shot, you need to contact Ottawa Public Health to update their records. You can do this by:
- Completing an online form
- Calling 613-580-6744, extension 24108
- Sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Faxing a copy of your child’s immunization record to 613-580-9660
Where to get vaccinations
As immigrants or refugees, you may have arrived in Canada without any vaccination records.
The Ottawa Newcomer Clinic can give you and your family the vaccinations you need. The clinic will also work with clients and Ottawa Public Health to ensure that you and your family’s vaccination records are up to date.
As a start, your doctor or health-care team will give you and your family yellow immunization cards to keep track of all the vaccinations that you have been given. It is important for clients to hold on to those cards as proof when you register your children at school, for example.
When you eventually find a permanent family doctor or health-care team, you will also need to show those immunization cards to them as proof of vaccination. After that, you will be able to get all the updated vaccinations that you need through them, or a walk-in medical clinic. To access health information regarding vaccination translated in various languages for divers population see, health info translation.
There is no charge for the vaccines available through public funding. If you require vaccinations that are not covered by OHIP, talk to your doctor or health-care team to see if they are covered by IFHP.
Some children are eligible at certain ages to get vaccinations at their school. If they have missed those vaccinations, they can get them from their doctor or health-care team.
All parents are responsible for making sure that their children’s vaccination records are up to date and that updated reports are sent to Ottawa Public Health.