© Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star
Caledon student was immunized two days before his first birthday and now Peel Public Health could suspend him because his shots aren't valid.
Cheryl Fulcher dutifully got her son Mason,6, his necessary shots and thought he was fine until she received a letter from Peel Public Health. Now, because her son got his meningitis shot two days before his first birthday, it doesn't count.
Cheryl Fulcher is no anti-vaxxer. In fact, she has been so zealous
getting shots for her son, Mason, that she had him vaccinated ahead of schedule: two days before his first birthday.
Five years on, as Mason wraps up Grade 1 at Caledon Central Public School, Peel Region Public Health is threatening to suspend him — not because he didn't get his shots, but because they were 48 hours premature.
"My doctor's office never flagged that it was a day or two early. I'm pretty anal about getting those things done when they're supposed to happen," Fulcher told the Star
. "It's a complete surprise. It makes you feel like you aren't doing your job properly — but I thought I was."
Provincial guidelines, updated for the 2014/2015 school year, require children to receive their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot as well as a meningitis vaccination "on or after the first birthday." The Immunization of School Pupils Act stipulates that students can be suspended if they aren't properly immunized.
"We're required to adhere to the legislation," said Peel Region Public Health spokesperson Janet Eagleson. "We send out at least four different correspondences to parents well in advance, working (with them) because we don't want to suspend kids."
But Mason is courting suspension next fall because he got his shots too early and Public Health says they don't count.
"If you want to get technical, he was born five days overdue," Fulcher said.
Fulcher received a letter from Peel Public Health in March, claiming that Mason did not have his MMR and meningitis shots. Thinking there had been a mix-up, she says she called them up and explained that the record shows he received both shots at 11 months and 28 days old. She says the public health nurse told her that was too early and Mason would have to get another shot, be tested for immunity, or she could sign an affidavit saying that he wasn't being vaccinated for religious or moral reasons.
"I'm definitely not going to sign it because you have to say 'I refuse to vaccinate my kid,' which is not the truth," said Fulcher. "But if I don't do anything, they're going to suspend my kid until I do."
She appealed her son's case but found out this week that he wouldn't get an exemption.
"Peel Public Health will uphold the provincially legislated requirements for the 12 month minimum age cut-off for students," wrote Dr. Monica Hau, associate medical officer of health at Peel Public Health, explaining that the vaccinations aren't as effective if delivered before the first birthday. "There will be no exceptions made."