Sooke School trustee and VIHA both call for vaccine education in schools

A renewal of cultural memory is needed, says trustee

There have been eight confirmed measles cases in Vancouver and more than 30 in Washington State. (Contributed)

Measles outbreaks in Vancouver, Washington State and elsewhere have raised concerns in Sooke that some parents are still failing to immunize their children against a series of preventable, serious diseases.

It’s a situation that has one Sooke school district trustee and an Island Health official suggesting that vaccine education should be considered in locals schools.

“What we could be doing is educating children about vaccines, and why they’re important. I think we’ve lost the cultural memory of why these vaccines are important and how they have prevented serious, sometimes fatal diseases from continuing,” said school trustee Margot Swinburnson, a retired nurse.

That’s a position supported by Dr. Dee Hoyano, Island Health medical officer.

“I would love to see it (education about vaccines) in our school programs so that, when those children grow up and become parents themselves, they can make the right choices,” Hoyano said.

Hoyano said the reason some parents don’t vaccinate their children is complex.

“There are a combination of reasons. For a portion of the population, there is still the willingness to believe some very bad and false information (regarding vaccinations). We need to get the message out that vaccines are not dangerous and could save your life,” she said.

“Then there are the parents who just don’t make it a priority, even though they may not be against vaccinations.”

The problem, said Hoyano, is that when a portion of the population fails to immunize their children, the percentage of the population that is protected drops and a phenomenon known as “herd immunity” stops being effective.

That means that those children who cannot be immunized due to some medical conditions such as immunodepression are placed at higher risk of infection from their uninoculated classmates.

In order for herd immunity to be effective, the vaccination rates need to be above 92 percent, said Hoyano. Lower Vancouver Island is at about 88 percent and that percentage has dropped steadily since 2013.

RELATED: Make sure shots up to date

It’s a difficult conundrum for public health nursing coordinator Catharine Berghuis.

“We have lots of opportunities to interact with these people and sometimes they are making decisions that we wouldn’t make but we want to maintain contact with them. If we pressure them too much they just stay away and we’ve lost our chance to educate them, so we try to do what we can without making them feel judged,” Berghuis said.

She explained that one of the initiatives taken by the public health nurses is to automatically make the three-month medical appointments (and subsequent appointments) for new moms, as opposed to waiting for the parents to make the appointments.

“Some people still decline to have their baby inoculated at that time, but at least we have a chance to speak to them and the baby won’t go un-vaccinated because the parents got busy and just didn’t make the appointment.”

Public health nurses should be doing a better job of delivering the vaccination message, Swinburnson said.

“This relates to the under funding of public health nurses over the past 20 years. We need to put the money back in that service so that those contacts are more consistent and the relationships stronger,” said Swinburnson.

When asked about the concept of making vaccinations a mandatory prerequisite for school attendance, however, Swinburnson maintained that it wasn’t within the bailiwick of the school district.

RELATED: Maple Ridge mom wants mandatory vaccinations

“All we accomplish with that is perhaps creating a community of people who withdraw their children from school to home-school. Do we want that?”

She added that, under current legislation, the school districts do not have the right to demand vaccinations.

This month has seen an outbreak of measles in Vancouver and in Washington State, where a state of emergency has been declared, 32 cases of measles were reported in January.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to fall fake eagle tree at Ogden Point

Last year a fake tree was installed to try to entice eagles to stay in the area, without much success

Ambitious B.C. Aviation Museum need $10M to get iconic Lancaster back in the air

Volunteers flock to work on bomber, restoration expected to take 10 years

Saanich to potentially host first hydrogen fuel station on Vancouver Island

Station proposed for corner of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue

Three children to run Victoria as ‘Mayors’ on Tuesday

Local kids will be honorary mayors for a day

Langford man sentenced to 15 months for child pornography collection

Andre Mollon sentenced for posession of more than 1,000 child pornography images and 70 videos

Victoria hosts ‘Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave’

The hockey cave was recently featured on a Netflix special

Inspirational Vancouver Island youngster dies after battle with brain cancer

Kaiden Finley ‘was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

Most Read