Health officials forced to get tough as once-dormant diseases returning
VANCOUVER â Late last month, public health officials issued a final ultimatum to the parents of school students in the Ottawa area: Vaccinate your kids, or we will suspend them from school.
On Wednesday, Ottawa Public Health made good on the threat. As of Thursday night, 603 Ottawa students had been sent home by suspension orders.
The idea is not to suspend students arbitrarily, say officials, but to drive home the point that they are no longer messing around when it comes to parents who forget to vaccinate their children â or who refuse the shots outright due to pseudoscientific claims.
Eric Leclair, spokesman for the agency, says there are âa lot of mistruths out there.â
âWe have to fight that reality and try to show that vaccination, next to clean water and sanitation, is the most powerful public health tool that exists on the planet.â
Fifteen years ago, in an act of scientific fraud that has since gone down as one of the biggest lies in modern medical history, a onetime University of Toronto researcher named Andrew Wakefield published a study claiming a link between autism and the vaccines that prevent measles, mumps and rubella.
The findings have been debunked, the study has been retracted, and Mr. Wakefield has been stripped of his medical licence and accused of collecting more than half a million dollars from lawyers drawing up litigation based on his bogus claims.
Regardless, Mr. Wakefieldâs unholy creation, the idea that vaccines are a threat to public health, lives on in a worldwide scourge of plummeting vaccination rates â and a troubling resurgence of once-dormant diseases.