Katie Clunn wants vaccines to be a condition of attending public school. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

  • Feb. 16, 2019 12:00 a.m.

The number of people asking for vaccines to become compulsory in order for kids to attend school is growing by the minute.

Maple Ridge mom Katie Clunn revived her change.org petition this week, initially launched three years ago, with the goal of sending it on to B.C. Premier John Horgan. It asks that the government require that students get vaccinated, before enroling, unless there’s a medical reason not to.

“The reason (for restarting the petition) was, I’m getting annoyed, really,” Clunn said after hearing about a recent measles case in Vancouver.

“People are … suffering needlessly because of the parents’ decisions,” said Clunn. She’s pregnant and is also worried about her baby getting sick.

On Friday, the number of measles case in Vancouver had grown to eight. Vancouver Coastal Health sent a letter to parents after a new case of the measles cases was found in connection to two schools. Health officials are looking into possible measles cases at the French language high school Ecole Jules-Verne and elementary school Ecole Anne-Hebert in Vancouver.

Clunn said Ontario requires kids to be vaccinated, although it allows personal or religious exemptions. But at least the schools have records, she said.

In B.C., “as far as I know, schools don’t have a clue who’s vaccinated and who’s not,” saying the health authority would have that information.

As of mid-Friday afternoon, more than 10,800 people had signed the petition titled, Mandatory Vaccines in B.C. (with medical exemptions).

She plans on letting the names add up until there are no more to add, pointing out that the petition is regularly forwarded to the premier at certain intervals.

“I’m sure the number will triple overnight.”

She also administers a Facebook group, Pro Vaccines in B.C.

“For me, this is comparable to drunk drivers. You would call out somebody who’s about to get into a car while drunk. Why wouldn’t you call out somebody who’s choosing to spread disease? I’m not saying the same thing about people who are medically exempt, but those who are choosing to ignore the science.”

She says fewer than 10 per cent of the population oppose vaccines.

A measles outbreak in Washington State and Oregon this winter has sickened 56 people so far. “That’s where we’re headed if we don’t do something about it. The Philippines just had 70 people pass away because of measles. It’s still there. We need to do our part,” Clunn said.

Fraser Health held a free immunization clinic in September at Maple Ridge secondary after a student showed up with measles on the first day of school.

During that incident, students had to get immunized or they weren’t allowed back at the school until after a period of time had elapsed.

The Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District said that vaccines are not mandatory in order to enrol in school.

Clunn tried to get the provincial government to make vaccinations compulsory with a petition in 2015, but nothing came of it.

She’s also encouraging people to contact their MLAs or the health minister.

“I just can’t wait until I hear from somebody in the government,” she said.

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