Toronto parents ‘more inclined’ to get kids vaccinated against measles

Strong opinions on vaccines seen among both parents, both medical professionals and school officials, StatsCan data show

Parents in greater Toronto appear to be more inclined to vaccinate their children against measles, according to an evaluation of vaccination rates by Statistics Canada.

Two-thirds of parents of children between the ages of 18 months and two years old in Ontario are “certain or somewhat likely” to get their young kids the measles, mumps and rubella (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, compared with 36% of all parents, the analysis of 2016 data shows. The rates are up from 34% in 2011.

Among other stakeholders such as school staff and medical practitioners, Toronto is the only Canadian city tracked by Statistics Canada to have an improved vaccination rate. For the first time since the survey was released, health professionals do not score as the lowest or highest group of stakeholders. The data suggest those influencing vaccination rates have at least narrowed the difference between the lowest and highest rate – on average 30% versus 40% in 2014.

“That’s as high as it can go and still have a substantial group of parents who are not inoculating their children against this disease which is highly infectious,” Martin Harris, chair of the measles, mumps and rubella program at SickKids hospital, said Wednesday.

Education, perhaps also influenced by parents’ desires to breastfeed their babies, has contributed the most to the changes since the previous survey. In a separate 2011 survey, 16% of parents said they’d never vaccinated their kids. That is down to 13% today.

Similar differences in opinion on vaccinations have been seen among parents and the health care providers who, when offered, request that children be vaccinated against particular diseases. The data show significant differences in those rates, too.

For instance, in 2011 just 36% of parents and 30% of medical professionals received their children vaccinated against the chicken pox. By 2017, 50% of parents and 44% of medical professionals said they vaccinated.

The data also show that parents of young children in Toronto and San Francisco, the highest population for young children in the U.S., are more likely to receive their kids vaccinated against all causes of disease than those in other cities.

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