Ontario’s teachers want flu shots as school requirement

Schools should also prepare to require flu vaccinations for student-athletes in their locker rooms, according to an application filed to the Ontario College of Teachers that was posted online Tuesday.

Since 2012, the college has allowed schools to require athletes and club members be vaccinated. The new curriculum proposal would mandate students be vaccinated for rabies, chicken pox, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and Hepatitis B. However, it would not ask for the vaccinations to be administered in the school, meaning schools would only need to provide the potential for supervision.

Brian Palmer, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education, said he could not comment on the proposal.

“However, I would say that the ministry has engaged specialists to develop a school immunization plan and those experts will talk to the district superintendent of education in the district in which the schools are located to see what those plans are,” Palmer said.

Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, suggested vaccination poses more of a potential threat to students and teams than traditional measures, such as injections or using needle vials.

“The need for parental responsibility is greater because there are ways for young people to inject themselves without parents noticing that they are,” McGeer said. “Some, I’ve met, are incredibly sloppy with needles and do not realize when they have applied too much force or too quickly. Some inexperienced athletes may not always wear a mask.”

Teams, including some state-level basketball leagues, have passed resolutions asking the college to become the first to require flu vaccines as a prerequisite for the sports leagues they play in.

“Are we imposing requirements that are going to make things more difficult for our athletes? Well, I would say that … I can’t imagine I could be anymore clear and concise than to say yes,” said Dean Holt, executive director of the Ontario Secondary School Athletic Association.

U.S. health officials have recommended that all children — and those planning to participate in organized extracurricular activities — receive the flu vaccine.

“Current influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older, and is especially important for children, teens and young adults,” according to the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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