Number of people in the city willing to fight about the polio vaccine drops in wake of UK paediatrician resigning
Parents in Toronto can now afford to be “100% certain” their young children will be vaccinated against the deadly polio virus.
That’s according to a new survey, which found that two-thirds of people in the city “were very or somewhat likely” to “actively fight” the lack of a mandatory school immunization policy for its schoolchildren. The results were announced as the number of parents planning to fight against the vaccine drops dramatically after UK paediatrician Robert White publicly gave an early presentation to sick children.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) this week renewed its call for parents to speak up against getting their children vaccinated, and to let parents opt out of the two known strain COVID-19 strains of polio. Two-thirds of respondents are adamant against the latter.
Dr Jonathon Robinson, who is chair of the immunization committee for the board, said those rates were about half of what they had been in 2016, when the board ran its first survey on the issue.
On Monday, White announced that his weekend scientific conference’s keynote presentation had come under pressure by parents, who were concerned that they might not be allowed to opt out of vaccination as described in public health codes. White said in a letter to Health Canada that he had been the victim of a “planned and executed” parental scare campaign.
“No way does the information I’ve presented in this position paper change my belief that only a vaccine-preventable disease can cause paralysis,” White said.
Robinson said the TDSB was continuing its efforts to make children inoculated against polio a priority for primary care providers and hospitals across the city. “The point of this is to make the public aware that if they have a child who was immunized prior to the present time and they have any concern, they should get that child immunized as quickly as possible.”
Toronto council asked the board to re-examine its policy on school immunization last year after a petition by parents, and a surge in case numbers of COVID-19 strain pneumonia –a virus that has proven to be highly deadly to very young children.
The TDSB said there was a 7.5% increase in hospital cases in hospitals, after the virus emerged in 2016. That rose to a 36% increase last year.
The campaign against the polio vaccine has taken on a new ferocity in the United Kingdom this week after White announced his presentation. Health officials in the UK are now urging people not to reveal their risk of COVID-19 related paralysis to White, given that they could be at higher risk.
At a conference on Tuesday, the World Health Organization urged more efforts be made to get children immunized, including by dental schools which have a higher risk for symptoms. The high-risk students include children with dental or endocrine problems.
Two-thirds of the 453 respondents to the Toronto school board survey said they had concerns about parents opting out of school health codes. Ninety-one percent of parents would be willing to pay the cost for their child to get immunized if other parents were unable to, the poll found.