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Vaccine Exemption for Children

 

Parents or guardians may choose to exempt their children from vaccines for personal or medical reasons. Getting an exemption form is the legal process to exempt your child from getting vaccines.

Education sessions

As of September 1, 2017, there is a new law in Ontario for parents who choose not to give vaccines to their child because of personal choice. This law requires this group of parents to attend an in-person vaccines education session at the Health Department.

How can exemption impact my child?

Vaccines help your child’s immune system to fight disease. If your child is not vaccinated, he or she:

  • Does not have the needed protection to help fight disease
  • Will be at risk if in contact with a vaccine preventable disease
  • May not be allowed to attend daycare or school during an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, regardless of the length of the outbreak

How do I exempt my child from receiving vaccines?

For both medical and personal choice exemptions, make sure that you choose the right form:

For medical reasons

Children in child care and school-age children:

  1. Print the Statement of Medical Exemption form for in child care (external link) or school-age children (external link)
  2. Bring the form to your healthcare provider to fill out
  3. Submit your original, signed form to the Health Department

For personal reasons

Children in child care:

  1. Print the Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief form for children in child care (external link)
  2. Bring the form to a Commissioner of Oaths to have it signed
  3. Submit the original, signed form to the Health Department

School-age children:

  1. Attend a vaccine education session and receive a vaccine education certificate
  2. Print the Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief form for school-age children (external link)
  3. Bring the form to a Commissioner of Oaths to have it signed
  4. Submit the original, signed form and your certificate to the Health Department

What if I only want to be exempt from certain vaccines?

All public health units in Ontario must have a complete record of vaccines or an exemption for these diseases:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Varicella (born on or after 2010)

On your form, you can mark which vaccines you want your child to be exempt from.

Why do I have to attend an education session to exempt my child?

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term care made changes to the Immunization of School Pupil's Act (ISPA). As of September 1, 2017, the ISPA requires parents who do not vaccinate their children, for personal reasons, to attend a vaccine education session.

This session:

  • will educate parents to help them make an informed choice.
  • is only required to exempt children in elementary or secondary school.
  • not needed for children in child care or day care.

How do I attend an education session?

Parent(s)/guardian(s) can register for an education session online or by calling 311.

Vaccine education sessions offer drop-in availability during business hours (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.). It is possible to get the Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief form commissioned during the same daytime visit.

Evening sessions will not have a notary or commissioner present. The parent/guardian must complete the affidavit outside of this session.

It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to submit both the Statement of Conscience or Religious Belief form and the Vaccine Education Certificate together to the Halton Region Health Department.

Do the exemptions expire?

Child care exemptions are valid until:

  • the child enters full-time school; OR
  • a parent/guardian chooses to cancel the exemption; OR
  • the medical reason for the exemption no longer exists.

Once your child enters school, you will need to complete a different form and attend an education session at your local health department.

School-age exemptions are valid until:

  • the student turns 18 years old; OR
  • the parent/guardian who signed the original form chooses to cancel the exemption; OR
  • the medical reason for the exemption no longer exists.

These exemption forms do not apply to people in post-secondary education or for employment purposes.

How do I find a Commissioner of Oaths?

Also known as a "Commissioner for Taking Affidavits", these people are authorized to sign exemption forms:

  • Regional Clerk at the Halton Regional Centre: 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville, ON, L6M 3L1 (external link) (appointment is required)
  • Municipal Clerks or Deputy Clerks for your local municipality
  • Members of the Provincial Government (MPPs)
  • Provincial judges
  • Justices of the Peace
  • Barristers or Solicitors licensed to practice law in Ontario
  • Licensed paralegals
  • A notary public

Photo identification with a signature is needed (e.g. driver’s licence, picture health card, passport). Some offices require an appointment and some may charge a fee.

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