Newly appointed city health officer says now is the time to get everyone vaccinated

Newly appointed Toronto city health officer Dr. Eileen de Villa met Wednesday with the head of Canada’s infectious diseases agency to discuss how to proceed with making every person in Toronto, starting in November, at least up to the minimum age of two, be vaccinated for meningococcal disease. Some of those who had earlier begun getting vaccinations were alarmed when a month ago they learned they would face a penalty if they failed to get up to date. There was concern that holding back more had the potential to slow efforts to stem the disease, which has killed 12 people in the city since 2017. Now those who’ve been given waivers on medical or ethical grounds can seek exemptions for those reasons as well.

The city’s efforts against the disease have been partly funded by the federal government. The number of people testing positive for the illness has dropped from 136 in December to 23 since February. But the number of people being hospitalized has also risen, from 24 to 90. That has worried some critics. For decades, Toronto’s health department has been using a passive education approach, convincing people to get the vaccinations through hearings and public events — working in particular to try to keep teens and young adults from falling ill.

Dr. de Villa explained to the Toronto Star Wednesday that Toronto, which has already been among the heaviest in the country with young people, should be focusing on getting all its people vaccinated by November. “If you don’t do it now, it will be too late,” she said. A mandatory program, she warned, would be “dramatically different” from her current plan, “and that could have the potential to slow down.” There are thousands of people who may be at risk, Dr. de Villa said.

Read the full story at the Toronto Star.

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