Toronto daycare drops some children who haven’t been vaccinated as city grapples with measles outbreak

The city of Toronto is “pausing” programs for some children enrolled in early childhood education due to a shortage of non-vaccinated staff. Some 868 children enrolled in early childhood education programs have not been vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, whooping cough, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and tetanus, the City of Toronto’s website said. As the program prepares to re-open on July 8, those enrolled in the program could have their programs “paused for a short period of time” to make room for the newly re-vaccinated staff.

“As long as the programs are still available, there is no reason to keep them closed,” a City of Toronto spokesperson said in a statement to the New York Times. “Currently, vaccines remain essential to protect community members against serious disease.”

The Toronto district’s Early Childhood Education and Care Program, which serves 190,938 children, suspended 21 non-vaccinated members of its staff due to the outbreak last Friday. Another 43 members of staff remain on suspension as of Tuesday. Meanwhile, the local health authority and the province have been struggling to stem the virus from spreading. While eight city-wide cases of measles and six cases of rubella have been reported, the city announced last week that it had also added 14 additional cases of mumps to its tally. The province added eight more cases of mumps to its count on Tuesday.

Since 2003, Toronto has had a documented measles outbreak every two to three years. When it began to “sustain this cycle for the first time,” according to the Toronto Public Health Division’s medical officer of health, Toronto public health knew it would only be a matter of time before the virus appeared once again. So far, there have been no reported cases of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) in Toronto, according to the city’s website.

The latest outbreak has spurred debate about the city’s vaccination policy. Wendy Bullock, a mother of four whose son is attending a new infant nursery program, told CBC News that she did not understand how some families can decide not to vaccinate their children. “They don’t get educated on it. They don’t see it, they just accept it without questioning,” she said. “Why are they being pressed to question that right now?”

Dr. David Jensen, the manager of the early childhood program at the Toronto Public Health Division, called the city’s vaccination policies “cautious” but said that it is “absolutely key” to address the current outbreak. “The only way to do that is really to take out vaccines that are not effective,” he said.

Leave a Comment