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Immunizations - Change to School Programs

Parents and caregivers will want to note that, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, there will be changes to the schedule and frequency of immunizations provided to students in Alberta. The following information is provided through Alberta Education:

Currently, children in Alberta are offered three doses of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccines in Grade 5.  Alberta is moving from a three-dose vaccine schedule in Grade 5 to a two-dose vaccine schedule in Grade 6 for both HBV and HPV.  The Government of Alberta is making this change to align with the evidence, which shows administering two doses at least six months apart provides children with good protection against HBV and HPV diseases. This change aligns with a number of jurisdictions in Canada that have already adopted a two-dose schedule for both vaccines.

The Grade 9 school immunization program, which includes the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (dTap) and Meningococcal (MenC-ACYW) vaccines will continue to be offered without change.

Alberta Health Services Public Health will work closely with you and your school(s) to ensure that the school immunization program does not interfere with students taking the Provincial Achievement Tests.

Beginning in the 2018/19 school year, public health nurses will also be offering immunizations to students in Grades 1 to 9 who are missing immunizations.  Public health nurses will work with individual schools to schedule these immunizations.

While it is the aim of Public Health to minimize disruptions to both school and classroom instruction time, public health nurses require adequate space and appropriate time to provide a safe, quality school immunization program.  We are asking for your continued support to provide immunizations in schools and to implement these changes.

Immunization is one of the most important and effective public health tools we have for protecting our children, schools and communities from communicable diseases. Alberta’s current immunization rates are not high enough to prevent cases of some vaccine-preventable diseases.

A summary of changes to the immunization program is available below.  More details on the immunization schedule for children are available on the Alberta Health websitewww.health.alberta.ca/health-info/imm-routine-schedule.html.

2018/19 School Year

Children in Grade 5 will not be immunized with the HPV and HBV vaccines, as they will be offered the vaccines the following year in Grade 6.  Public health nurses will also be reviewing the immunization records of all students from Grades 1 to 9 to assess immunization status and contacting parents if their children are missing immunization information.  If parents provide consent, students can be immunized at school.  Parents will continue to have the final decision on immunizing their children.

2019/20 School Year

With parental consent, children in Grade 6 will be immunized with the HPV and HBV vaccine on a two-dose schedule. Public health nurses will also be reviewing the immunization records of Grades 1 to 9 students who are new to the school to assess immunization status and contacting parents if their children are missing immunization information or is not up to date for immunization. Parents will continue to have the final decision on immunizing their children.

Our approach to raising provincial immunization rates is to connect public health nurses with parents and to make immunizations readily accessible.  Schools are valuable partners in maintaining the health of Alberta children.  Thank you for continuing to provide time and space in support of the immunization program.

We have included some key messages for your use should you receive inquiries from parents. If you have any questions, please contact Fern Miller, Acting Executive Director, Health and Wellness Promotion, Alberta Health at fern.miller@gov.ab.ca or 780-422-7071.

Key Messages for School Authorities to Parents

  • Alberta Health has made changes to the school immunization program that will take effect in the 2018/19 school year.
  • In the 2018/19 school year, public health nurses will be reviewing the immunization records of all Alberta students from Grades 1 to 9 to assess immunization status.  You will be contacted if your children are missing immunization information. 
  • With your consent, your children can be offered the immunizations they are missing at school.  You will continue to have the final decision on immunizing your children.
  • In 2019/20, Alberta is moving from a three-dose vaccine schedule in Grade 5 to a two-dose vaccine schedule in Grade 6 for both Hepatitis B (HBV) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines.  Administering two doses at least six months apart has been shown to provide children with good protection against these diseases. This will reduce the number of injections children receive.
  • The Grade 9 school immunization program including the diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (dTap) and Meningococcal (MenC-ACYW) vaccines will continue to be offered without change.
  • Alberta Health Services, Public Health will work closely with schools and school authorities to ensure that immunization does not interfere with students taking the Provincial Achievement Tests.
  •  Alberta Health encourages parents to immunize their children against HPV and HBV. Vaccines are safe and effective, and protect our children and communities from disease.

Sincerely yours,

Milton Sussman, Deputy Minister of Health
Dr. Curtis Clarke, PhD, Deputy Minister of Education

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