A Maple Ridge mother who champions compulsory vaccinations says the government’s recent efforts to boost this province’s immunity to measles are baby steps that don’t go far enough.
Katie Clunn now has more than 47,000 signatures on her petition at Change.org, calling for mandatory vaccines in B.C.
“And it’s still ticking.”
She said the petitioners are probably spurred on by measles cases in the Lower Mainland, up to 17 as of Monday.
Two more cases on Vancouver Island were announced on Friday. Many were students who had been travelling abroad.
There has also been a significant outbreak in Washington State and Oregon.
Clunn brought up the issue in 2015, but got little traction. She hopes to speak with health minister Adrian Dix soon.
“When I first started, I didn’t think it would get this far, so I’m pleasantly surprised.”
Her petition page urges people to contact their MLAs and write to Dix.
The province recently announced a measles immunization catch-up program to help B.C. families ensure their children are protected. It will run from April to June.
This month, Fraser Health’s public health unit will be sending letters to parents of children in kindergarten through Grade 12 who do not have up-to-date measles vaccinations, to provide them with instructions on where and when they can get a shot.
Mandatory reporting of vaccination status is planned for fall 2019.
“It’s a baby step, but I don’t think it’s enough to get the herd immunity where it needs to be,” Clunn said.
The World Health Organization recommends vaccination coverage of 95 per cent.
Parents who forgot or were ambivalent about vaccinations will likely go and get their children inoculated, she said.
However, the staunch anti-vaccination crowd will not be persuaded to change their minds, she added.
People who refuse to have their children vaccinated could be refused school admission, with parents making that choice forced to home-school them.
Most U.S. states make vaccinations a condition of enrollment, as do many countries, including France and Italy.
Clunn noted Australia reduces family tax benefits for children that do not meet immunization requirements, but is not a fan of a punitive approach, which could impact the quality of life for children.
She would rather see governments offer an incentive or reward for keeping vaccinations up to date.
“Anti-vaxxers aren’t trying to hurt anybody, they’re trying to protect their kids. They’re just misguided.”
Clunn, who likens not vaccinating a child to not putting a seatbelt on a toddler, also runs a social media page promoting mandatory vaccinations.
Earlier this month, she called on Facebook to ban all anti-vaccination postings. But the social media company said it will not take that step.