Toronto Public Health marks World Immunization Week with “The Big Catch-Up”

2023 April 24

Today, Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park) officially proclaimed World Immunization Week in Toronto.

From April 24 to 30, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Immunization Week highlights the collective action needed to protect people from vaccine-preventable diseases. To mark the beginning of this important week, the Toronto sign at City Hall will be lit in red, yellow and blue on Monday, April 24 and the CN Tower will be lit in red, yellow and blue on Tuesday, April 25.

Starting this week, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is joining organizations around the world working to get essential vaccination back to pre-pandemic levels. This year’s World Immunization Week theme is “The Big Catch-Up,” encouraging everyone, especially children, to make up for the lost time by getting the lifesaving vaccines they missed.

World Immunization Week also acknowledges and celebrates Toronto’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the largest vaccination campaign in the city’s history, and Toronto’s vaccine engagement strategy to help increase vaccine uptake among equity-deserving communities. The Big Catch-Up continues ongoing efforts by TPH to offer life-saving vaccines to children, students and the general public at City of Toronto immunization clinics and mobile clinics.

School Immunization Program (SIP) for grade 7 and 8 students
TPH nurses are returning to grade 7 and 8 schools for spring clinics to complete the vaccination series started in the fall.

Students in grades 7 to 12 who missed getting the human papillomavirus, meningococcal and hepatitis B vaccines can access them at City-run immunization clinics. Information about the School Immunization Program can be found at online.

Routine childhood vaccinations

Parents and guardians of children from four to 17 years of age (junior kindergarten to grade 12) can book vaccine appointments at City-run immunization clinics to receive routine childhood vaccinations usually provided at doctor’s offices. These include vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease, pertussis (whooping cough) and varicella (chickenpox). There is no fee for children to receive these vaccines and an OHIP card is not required. Appointments are preferred, though walk-ins will be accommodated based on clinic capacity. Appointments can be made online through the TPH appointment booking system .

Ontario’s Immunization of School Pupils Act  (ISPA) requires parents and guardians to submit records of their child’s routine childhood vaccines or a valid exemption. Parents are responsible for reporting child vaccinations to Toronto Public Health.

TPH assesses vaccination records to ensure students are compliant and continues to focus on informing families about potentially missing doses so that they can catch up and report on these vaccines.

Parents and guardians are reminded to:

  • Check their child’s vaccination records to ensure they have received these vaccinations.
  • Go to a health care provider or a City-run immunization clinic to have their child vaccinated if their child did not get one or more of these vaccines.
  • Report and update student vaccination records using the secure online system, ICON (Immunization Connect Ontario).

Families may also call TPH for more information at 416-338-7600.

Families without a regular medical provider can seek assistance from Health Care Connect Ontario .

COVID-19 spring vaccination for individuals at high-risk
As of April 3, the Ontario Ministry of Health recommends that people at high risk of severe illness and hospitalization receive a spring booster dose if it has been at least six months since their last COVID-19 dose or infection.

TPH continues to provide vaccination opportunities for individuals who have not been vaccinated or are eligible for a COVID-19 “booster” dose. Bivalent booster vaccines are available for anyone five years of age and older.

The vaccine is free to receive and an OHIP card is not required. Appointments are preferred, though walk-ins will be accommodated based on capacity. Appointments at City-run immunization clinics can be booked using the provincial vaccine appointment booking system . Walk-ins are also welcome at all City of Toronto mobile locations .

Vaccine protection against Meningococcal disease
TPH continues to respond to the upsurge of Meningococcal disease in young adults in Toronto. TPH encourages Toronto residents in their twenties and thirties to check their vaccination records to confirm if they have received a Meningococcal vaccine, most commonly received in grade 7 or 8 as part of the school vaccination program.

Eligible individuals who have not received a Meningococcal vaccine and are between the ages of 20 to 36, including newcomers from countries that do not provide publicly funded Meningococcal vaccination, can receive free Meningococcal vaccine at City-run immunization clinics. Residents are asked to book an appointment through TPH’s booking system . A health card is not required. Identification is needed to prove a person’s age. Residents can also receive vaccinations from their primary health care provider.