Parents, Students Kept in the Dark About Vaccine Exemptions
March 26, 2001 Updated August 2014
Once again, health officials are doing the rounds of Ontario schools and threatening to expel children whose vaccine records aren’t complete, or who aren’t up to date with all their shots.
Already, some Ontario school children have recently been rounded up and sent home with warnings that they must be vaccinated — with no mention of exemptions. The fear and coercion continues despite the availability of exemptions under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (Ontario), and despite Health Canada’s clear statement that vaccines are not mandatory in Canada. Parents and students, and school administrators continued to be misinformed by public health officials.
Some teachers are angry with the unethical methods used to enforce vaccine policies in the schools, and are taking proactive measures to educate school administrators about vaccine risks and legal exemptions “This time in no uncertain terms I stated that this was an enforced government policy which was using the school as a policing force in a coercive and unproven medical experiment on our students. I also stated there were known adverse reactions — some very serious in nature and that as educational institutes it is our responsibility to inform the students and parents that there are indeed two choices here — have the vaccine or sign the Legal exemption form. My principal took the information and thanked me. I’ll see what happens.”
Ontario health officials are loathe to inform parents that their school age children have the legal right to exemption from any or all vaccines, nor do they wish the public to know that this right is guaranteed in the Immunization of School Pupils Act. The Act was amended in 1984 to include exemptions for philosophical reasons. It also includes the right to exemption for religious reasons. These exemptions also apply for nursery school children and those attending day care.
Although these legal exemptions have been in place for seventeen years, VRAN receives calls from hundreds of worried parents each year whose children are threatened with expulsion from school when vaccine records aren’t up to date, or when parents choose to discontinue vaccinating their children. Many school boards and school administrators don’t seem to be aware of the availability of legal exemptions, and health units take advantage of this ignorance by issuing intimidating vaccine demand notices that fail to include clear exemption information. Parents frequently report that even school principals are unaware of vaccine exemptions, and they are often told by their doctors that their child won’t be allowed into school without vaccines. The widespread belief that vaccination is mandatory pervades all levels of society and ignorance of legally available exemptions is pervasive. Media articles reinforce the misconception of mandatory vaccine requirements, and often omit information about the availability of vaccine exemptions in news reports.
Over the years, it has become clear that the intimidation tactics used by the Ministry of Health to achieve maximum vaccine compliance hinges on keeping the public ignorant of it’s legal right to vaccine exemptions. In an attempt to remedy this intolerable abuse of the law, VRAN retained legal counsel to address our concerns to the Ministry of Health. Please see our solicitor’s letter to Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Colin O D’Cunha.
Vaccine exemption forms can be obtained from your local health department. The affidavit must be signed and stamped by a commissioner of oaths, notary public or a justice of the peace. Commissioner of oaths are available at most municipal offices as well as MP and MPP offices. Call ahead to confirm, fees may apply, and you will require identification. We recommend parents keep a signed and stamped copy in their own files at home.
Download the Ontario Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit from the websites below:
Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit 4897-64E (2013/08) – Download from the Government of Ontario Central Forms Repository
Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief Affidavit 4897-64E (2013/08) – Download from VRAN if above link does not work
Definitions & Regulations – Immunization of School Pupils Act, Ontario
- Immunization of School Pupils Act R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 645 – Designated diseases covered under the Act are diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, mumps and rubella. *NOTE – New Ontario Regulation coming into force July 1, 2014 – Meningococcal disease, Pertussis, Varicella added to the Designated Diseases List, exemptions will continue to be available for these vaccines. See “Statement of conscience or religious belief”