Two-thirds of Toronto parents may not vaccinate kids for enterovirus, poll finds

More than 1,000 parents of Toronto children surveyed worried that kids would be too young to get the shot for enterovirus 71 when they are required to be vaccinated by the end of December

More than two-thirds of parents of Toronto children are “certain or somewhat likely” to get their children vaccinated against a strain of enterovirus that struck more than 300 infants and young children in Ohio, the city has said.

The response to the survey was the first public word from Toronto city hall about recent cases of enterovirus 70 in the public healthcare system. About three percent of children admitted to hospital for intractable fever during the summer were treated for enterovirus 70, according to health officials.

More than 1,000 parents of Toronto children surveyed were worried about their children having to get vaccinated by the end of December, the Toronto health authority told the Guardian on Monday.

The parent survey, conducted on 9 October, found that 73% of respondents were sure or somewhat likely to get their children vaccinated by the end of the year. The health authority pointed out that 77% of Toronto residents aged six and older had completed a polio vaccination between 1991 and 2014.

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The survey showed parents were concerned that their children would be too young to receive the vaccination. Ontario law requires children to be vaccinated against enterovirus 71 by the end of December.

“Any requests for vaccine refusals for children who are too young to receive enterovirus 70 vaccinations are addressed by the public health team to reduce potential situations where patients needlessly become susceptible to disease,” the Toronto health authority said in a statement.

In a separate statement on Monday, Toronto police warned parents of incoming school-age children to examine their personal immunization records.

“Children entering the school environment may have temporary and/or permanent health limitations,” the police said in a press release. “Parents are reminded that ‘unvaccinated’ does not necessarily equate to ‘unable to be vaccinated.’ ”

It is unclear what exactly is causing enterovirus 70 to sweep across the United States, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official told the Guardian last week. But cases have spread to Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina, Georgia, North Dakota, Washington, Illinois, Ohio, California, Florida, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Indiana, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Mississippi, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The last pediatric case of enterovirus 70, confirmed in Texas, was on 21 October.

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