Vaccines save lives. They prevent diseases that can cause serious illness, long-term disability, and death. As of July 1, 2019, parents and guardians in British Columbia are required to report the vaccination status of their school-aged children. Up-to-date immunization records benefit your child and the health system by enabling Northern Health to:
- Provide the best care for your child
- Recommend immunizations your child may be missing
- Respond effectively to disease outbreaks
The Regulation applies to all students in all schools within British Columbia, including those who are home-schooled. It does not apply to children attending schools operated by a participating First Nation, on a reserve, or by a Treaty First Nation or the Nisga’a Nation.
How will I know if my child has incomplete or missing immunization records?
Families of school-age children with incomplete or missing immunization records should receive a letter from Northern Health by the end of February 2023. The letter will include a report showing which recommended immunizations Northern Health has record of, and which are missing.
Students who attend schools and those who are homeschooled will receive a letter from their school. Students who are enrolled in distance education programs will receive letters in the mail to their home address.
Students in grades 6 and 9 will not receive letters, as communications from Northern Health were sent earlier in the school year.
My child is in grade 5 or grade 8 and up to date with immunizations, but we received a letter from Northern Health that says that s/he is missing vaccines which shouldn’t be due until they’re in grade 6 or 9. Why did we get a letter?
This is an unforeseen error due to a programming algorithm that forecasts immunizations based on age rather than grade.
Your child might have been incorrectly flagged as:
- Overdue for routine grade 6 immunizations if they are in grade 5 and were 10 years and 8 months or older when the letters were printed in November
- Overdue for routine grade 9 immunizations if they are in grade 8 and were 13 years and 8 months or older when the letters were printed in November
It would be safe and effective for your child to receive these immunizations at this point, but they're not overdue. Northern Health offers routine in-school immunizations when students are attending grade 6 or 9 (not grade 5 or 8).
If your child is missing any other immunizations, we encourage you to book a catch-up appointment. Find clinic contact information.
Is it possible that we received a letter from Northern Health in error?
Yes, there are various ways students might have received a letter in error.
If you have received a letter recommending immunization, please follow up with your local health centre. Northern Health staff will be able to confirm your/your child’s vaccination status and arrange for appropriate vaccination. Find clinic contact information.
You may also determine if your child’s vaccination status is complete by using the Vaccination Status Indicator website. Example results are shown below.
No action requested:
No action requested (vaccination will be offered in grade 6):
No action requested (vaccination will be offered in grade 9):
Requested action, please follow up with your local health centre:
My child is in kindergarten and received a letter from Northern Health that says they are missing vaccines that either (a) haven't been offered yet, or (b) they received recently. Why did we get a letter?
School entry vaccines are offered to kids who are between 4 to 6 years old. Depending on the community you live in, they might be offered as early as the spring before kindergarten starts, or as late as the end of the kindergarten school year.
Your child might have been incorrectly flagged as overdue for their routine kindergarten immunization if they received their immunization shortly after the letters were printed in November, or if you live in a community that has clinics coming up in the winter/spring.
If you have received a letter recommending immunization, please follow up with your local health centre. Northern Health staff will be able to confirm your child’s vaccination status and arrange for appropriate vaccination. Find clinic contact information. You may also determine if your child’s vaccination status is complete by using the Vaccination Status Indicator website.
How to check your child’s immunization status?
What information do I send if my child is up-to-date with immunizations, but the information I received from Northern Health states otherwise?
Please provide information about the additional immunizations your child has received:
- Electronically through the provincial immunization record submission portal
- In-person at your local health centre
You will be asked for:
- A picture/copy of your child’s updated record(s)
- Your child’s first and last name, date of birth, and Personal Health Number, which can be found on their BC Services Card
How do I find my child's records if Northern Health doesn't have them?
If your child was immunized at a First Nations community health centre, doctor’s office, pharmacy, or outside of BC, their record may not be in the Provincial Immunization Registry. See helpful tips for finding your child’s immunization record.
What do I do if my child is missing immunizations?
Make an appointment with your local health centre to catch-up on these important vaccines.
Indigenous children who receive health services in First Nations communities may be able to access immunization services at their community health centres.
If your child is enrolled in a distance education program administered within Northern Health, but lives outside the Northern region, please refer to ImmunizeBC to locate a health centre near you.
What if I do not want my child immunized?
- Why vaccines are important - ImmunizeBC
- Vaccine safety - Immunize BC
- Risks if you choose not to vaccinate - ImmunizeBC
- Your responsibilities with an unvaccinated child - ImmunizeBC
If you have questions or concerns about getting immunized, or would like to submit a vaccine refusal, please contact your local health centre to speak to a nurse.
I’m a student and want to give my own immunization consent. How does this work?
In general, parental consent for health care in BC is sought for children 12 years of age and younger. However, there is no legal age of consent for health care in BC. Children and youth under 19 years of age can legally consent to or refuse vaccinations on their own behalf if they demonstrate the capability. This is called "mature minor consent."
Northern Health encourages you to make decisions about immunizations together with your parents/guardians. You are welcome to make an appointment with your local health centre to catch-up on vaccines you are missing.
Any further questions?
If you have any questions about immunizations, first check ImmunizeBC. If you have further questions, please reach out to your local health centre to speak with a nurse.