Vaccines may now be mandatory for teenagers in Canada

Story highlights Vaccinations are still recommended for most children as teenagers begin to become more independent

But Ontario hasn’t required the booster for almost 20 years, as the province may extend vaccinations into teenagers

Parents looking to protect their children might want to reconsider where they receive vaccines — at least in part — after a Toronto clinic released reports about the extent of the city’s vaccine shortage.

According to physicians there, the clinic has been out of business since early February due to an increased demand for the boosters needed for the Cervical Cancer Screening test.

The Cervical Cancer Screening test looks for the presence of certain types of abnormal cervical cells that can indicate the presence of cervical cancer. Ontario health officials urged teens to get the test when they turned 15 years old in 2009, but the province is now considering making the shots mandatory for those aged 16.

In recent years, a large number of women in Ontario have not had their cervical cancer screenings, and concern about infections has been on the rise. Nearly 5,000 women each year have irregular or abnormal cells detected.

According to Toronto doctors, nearly 1,000 of those women are under 18 years old.

Ontario has been on the list of jurisdictions that don’t require vaccines for children as young as 15. Among the countries that have such a law are several Nordic countries, including Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

But a recent meeting between Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Ontario Premier Doug Ford gave Ontario one step closer to passing legislation making vaccinations mandatory for teenagers.

Elliott said in a statement to Global News: “Our government has committed to change the law that currently prevents girls from being vaccinated until they are 16. Since February 8, we have been working with physicians and other stakeholders to draft a new proposal for vaccination.”

If the province passes the law, more information about teens and teens will be made available. They’re allowed to have the shots for free by family doctors.

But Toronto doctors say the lack of information has made parents choose between vaccinating their children — especially girls — or opting to risk them having contracted a potentially deadly infection.

“We have many mothers walking in who are unaware that the cervical cancer screening is available. Unfortunately, we have had to tell girls and their mothers not to come in, that there is no queue of appointments that could hold their place,” Dr. Whitney Harshe, an adolescent care physician at Toronto General Hospital, told CTV News.

As Harshe mentioned, Ontario’s vaccination rates for girls as young as 15-years-old are lower than other jurisdictions — especially in rural Ontario.

A recent study by the Public Health Agency of Canada said vaccination coverage for girls aged 15-years-old is as low as 28% in Ontario.

U.S. vaccine rates for girls as young as 15-years-old are not as low. CDC statistics show 87% of girls ages 15 to 17 are vaccinated.

Read the original article on Global News. Copyright 2020. Follow Global News on Twitter.

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