City of Toronto Breaks

City Officials in the City of Toronto are “pausing” some City-funded recreation programs in the wake of an outbreak of pertussis, also known as “whooping cough.”

These programs include rickshaw rides in all wards of the City of Toronto in lieu of supervised playtime, recreational programs which involve any activity that has open exposure to the public except for onsite care of toddlers and swimming lessons. In addition, Toronto Public Health is calling on schools to stop students who are unvaccinated from attending classes while the virus continues to circulate.

Like the measles, whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a bacteria, which can be fatal to infants and newborns under 6 months of age.

According to the Ontario Immunization Program, 25 people in Toronto have contracted pertussis, with ten requiring hospitalization. This outbreak comes on the heels of the historic outbreak in 2015. That year, there were 2,049 cases of whooping cough, the highest number since 1967.

“The City has been stepping up our response to rising rates of pertussis in the city,” said Toronto Public Health Director Dr. Eileen de Villa. “In all, there have been 13 cases since the outbreak was identified last month,” she continued. “Seventeen cases in the last week alone.”

That’s no way to welcome those who are vaccinated with the infamous measles:

Ironically, every year, Ontario’s Health Minister and the Provincial Health Officer are invited to the World Health Organization’s International Conference on Immunization, a gathering that draws the world’s top experts and the collective leadership in vaccine science, research and advocacy. In 2011, for instance, Ontario’s then-Health Minister Deb Matthews was among the speakers at the Health First Conference, discussing the work and priorities of Ontario’s vaccination program and making it the second most widely used immunization in the country.

And Toronto Public Health is not the only organization concerned about these numbers. The Canadian Nurses’ Association has raised concerns over the number of pertussis cases, and is calling on authorities to take action to prevent the spread of the virus.

They want the Ontario Provincial Government and community leaders to work together to raise public awareness about whooping cough and the importance of vaccination.

“Health care practitioners, school-aged children, and other public and private staff must be able to feel safe working in our communities,” the Nurses’ Association stated.

Measles also still causes significant injury and death, along with the embarrassment and disruption caused to those who can’t travel like attending work and school. Vaccinating our children is a simple solution to both these issues.

Jill Schlesinger is a public health expert. She owns Diversity Market

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