Online petition calling for mandatory vaccinations in B.C. collects more than 25,000 names
Maple Ridge mom Katie Clunn is having some success in mobilizing the public to support her call for mandatory vaccinations for kids enrolled in schools.
An online petition that she posted on change.org has attracted more than 25,000 signatories.
It gathered momentum over the weekend after Vancouver Coastal Health revealed that there were eight new measles infections in Vancouver.
Clunn's petition acknowledges that medical exemptions should be permitted. But she's alarmed that less than one-quarter of Lower Mainland schools have vaccination rates of 90 percent or higher.
"Currently we do not request vaccine records to enroll in our schools," she wrote on change.org. "The current policy is that if there is an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, those without vaccines are requested (but not forced to) stay home.
"The biggest problem with this is that most of the diseases (chicken pox, measles etc) have a 10 day incubation period in which the patient can be contagious without showing symptoms. This puts our weakest children (cancer patients, immuno compromised) at great risk."
A 2016 study in Vaccine Reports found lower coverage "among some types of private schools and in affluent and disadvantaged communities" in Vancouver. It looked at data in 219 schools in nine local health areas.
There's also a petition on change.org, since closed, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop mandatory vaccinations in Canada. It collected 1,074 signatories.
The recent Vancouver measles outbreak has been linked to a local family that travelled to Vietnam.
The father, Emmanuel Bilodeau, told CBC News that he and his then wife were concerned about reports linking the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine with autism.
Health officials and scientists have vehemently and frequently rejected this hypothesis, which was advanced in the Lancet in the late 1990s by controversial British doctor Andrew Wakefield.
The Lancet retracted the article in 2010 and Wakefield lost his medical licence. He twice tried without success to sue a British investigative journalist, Brian Deer, for defamation.
This came after Deer wrote articles highlighting Wakefield's research methodology and alleged financial conflicts of interest.