Vaccination policy strategies in Ontario


Vaccination is considered to be one of the greatest public health achievements, contributing to a substantial decline in infectious disease mortality in Canada. However, a growing threat of vaccine hesitancy has led to an upsurge in the prevalence and incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases across the globe, including Canada. Vaccine hesitancy is on the rise in the province of Ontario. Parental vaccine hesitancy, vaccine misconceptions, rising non-medical vaccine exemption rates, and low childhood vaccination coverage has led to a resurgence in vaccine-preventable diseases, especially measles. Given the importance of achieving high vaccine coverage to avoid vaccine-preventable diseases and their dire consequences, vaccine hesitancy is an important issue that needs to be addressed. There is no perfect solution to address vaccine hesitancy. Understanding the complex mix of factors that determine individual and collective vaccination behaviour is vital to designing effective vaccination policies, programs, and targeted interventions. This article critiques current vaccine policy strategies and outlines a policy approach to address parental vaccine hesitancy and prevent future vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, specifically in Ontario, and more broadly within Canada. Providing support to healthcare providers and primary care physicians; and empowering parents, schools, students, families, and communities in Ontario, will slowly but surely mitigate vaccine hesitancy and enable healthy vaccination behaviours. Healthcare system-based interventions seem to be the most comprehensive approach that requires coordinated efforts and partnerships between community-based organizations and vaccination providers to ensure inclusive and integrated service delivery.