Written by Eliana Johnson, CNN
As a measure to prevent norovirus, Ontario’s government is requiring students to get vaccinated for the virus that causes stomach illness in more than two-thirds of all the cases reported in the province.
The move follows a two-day outbreak that sent hundreds of Toronto elementary school students home sick in early June.
The addition of the COVID-19 vaccination to the list of recommended immunizations prompted parents to offer their children either antibiotics or the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen, which are also recommended as treatment for norovirus, in the event of illness, the Canadian Press reported.
Vaccination rates dropped to 50% at 32 Toronto elementary schools, and 31,000 kindergarteners and 28,000 children at nine Toronto Catholic elementary schools were suspended from school as a result of the outbreak, according to city officials.
On Wednesday, Ontario’s New Democratic Party (NDP) sent a letter to the government requesting that the plan be implemented on a province-wide basis. The letter said 68 percent of unvaccinated students in the province’s Catholic schools were not getting their shots on time.
“We believe it’s essential to implement this initiative immediately, and realize that the Office of the Chief Medical Officer is already working on ways to implement and streamline the requirements for vaccination,” wrote NDP MPP David Zimmer in the letter.
In addition to the requirement for the vaccine for schoolchildren, the government is requiring vaccinations for individuals 15 years of age and older before attending public daycares, but not before they are 17.