Amid protests, Toronto Board of Health urges provincial changes to boost vaccination

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Ontario Deputy Premier Christine Elliott talks with journalists following Question Period at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, August 1, 2018. Elliott says a large ad campaign urging Toronto residents to be wary of vaccinations is "very concerning." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Toronto‘s Board of Health has voted to recommend provincial action to amp up immunization rates in spite of opposition from a small but vocal contingent of anti-vaccine protesters.

Dozens of protesters gathered in the rotunda at City Hall to oppose the measures, which will see the city ask the province to “consider removing philosophical and religious exemptions” for students who must otherwise be vaccinated.

If the province complies _ which they’re under no obligation to do _ students would only be allowed to skip vaccinations for medical reasons.

The immunization strategy includes a series of recommendations to Ontario’s Ministry of Health, Health Canada and several other organizations to try and reduce “vaccine hesitancy.”

The board also recommends the province closely track and analyze who has received vaccines to “determine areas of low vaccination coverage, including geographic and equity disparities.”

Board chair Joe Cressy says the move is based on an overwhelming amount of evidence that vaccines save lives.