Vaccinations are not required to see a doctor, but a health card is

We all need driving licenses to get behind the wheel, and Canada also permits children under the age of 15 to travel with a health card, which allows them to have regular medical checkups.

In some ways, these passports are similar: When faced with a health issue, the child may need to continue vaccinations against that illness in person, rather than after getting a blood test or having a pap smear. And usually with Canadian health cards, vaccination information and renewal documents are printed on the back.

However, health card-based immunization registration, known as PTRA, isn’t an option for children who qualify for Canadian Vaccination Information Centres, or VICs. An application has to be made, and applications are usually denied for one reason or another, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

That group of up to 15 percent of Ontario children whose parents aren’t vaccinating them needs to visit a VIC, where information is collected and the children’s immunization status reviewed, The Hill reported.

Because the federal government doesn’t support PTRA, the province of Ontario was forced to extend the deadline for renewing vaccinations in December.

Ontario announced this week that children will no longer need a health card to receive their last vaccine. According to The Hill, it will be allowed starting next January, but only if a doctor tells them they need the additional proof.

“If parents do not request a health card or not request a health card at a vaccination, a doctor will refuse the report and direct the child to the VIC to receive the last injection in order to keep their vaccinations up to date,” Howard Pollock, deputy minister of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, said in a statement.

Even if parents choose to vaccinate their children without a health card, there’s no guarantee they’ll find the right one. For example, it’s difficult to order one from Canada’s personal status section. There are eight pages of Canada’s strict privacy laws, and a dentist might not be willing to send a letter about the dentist’s benefits to a health card office, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

Don’t let these issues discourage you from vaccinating your child. An advisory committee on immunization suggests that families that want a health card no matter how they vaccinate should get one for their doctor, according to Toronto Life.

“We recommend health cards in addition to vaccination records, because they fill the gap between vaccination records and health care on the family,” the advisory committee says.

For more details on vaccinations and vaccines in Canada, visit the Canadian Free Press.

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