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Ontario may require anti-vaxxers to attend an education course

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Not getting your child vaccinated is dangerous and dumb, and the Ontario government wants to educate the parents who think otherwise. It introduced legislation this week that, if passed, would require parents to attend an educational session before they're allowed to get a vaccine exemption for their child.

A "local public health unit" would run the educational sessions; exactly what they'd involve still needs to be determined. The government says "public health units and other stakeholders" would be involved in deciding what they look like.

Vaccine denial is a serious public health issue

The legislation is intended to cut down on the number of parents seeking vaccine exemptions for non-medical reasons. Ontario is seemingly hoping that the course will either inform parents that vaccines are good and helpful and that their supposed link to autism was in fact fraudulent and retracted, or that parents just won't want to go to an education course and will decide to vaccinate their kids instead. (If a vaccine exemption is medically necessary, parents won't have to attend the course.)

The legislation still has to pass for any of this to happen. The legislation would also improve vaccination reporting to schools, requiring that health care providers do the reporting, instead of parents.

CBC News reports that fewer than 2 percent of parents currently request vaccine exemptions in Ontario, so the government is addressing a fairly small group for the time being. It's likely hoping to keep it from growing. Misinformation about vaccines continues to spread, and in some areas, vaccine denial is growing into a real problem.