Vaccination enforcement delayed in Hamilton schools due to cyber attack


Published March 1, 2024 at 4:21 pm

Hamilton will delay its enforcement of student vaccinations amid the ongoing “cyber incident” which has crippled some of its IT systems.

Hamilton confirmed the incident began on Feb. 25 and has shut down services including the city’s phone lines. While operational, Hamilton Street Railway buses are running without their onboard computer systems. As a result, the stop announcement voice on HSR buses is not working. However, the myRide system in Waterdown and DARTS specialized busses remain operational.

Most other critical systems remain operational including the municipal water supply. Recreation centres, courts and service offices remain open but the phones are down. One line remains open, the Customer Contact Centre at 905-546-2489.

While the incident is still under investigation, the city says it is too early to know what information was compromised.

In the latest impact, Hamilton will delay the enforcement of the Immunization of School Pupils Act, which require students be vaccinated against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Meningococcal disease, Whooping cough and Chickenpox (for kids born after 2010).

Students without these vaccine who did not have valid medical, religious or conscientious exemption records on file were set to be suspended on March 4. However, the city has confirmed they cannot access student immunization records as they’re submitted.

“While enforcement through suspensions is currently delayed, we are strongly recommending students with overdue vaccinations and records continue to take steps to become up-to-date,” the city said, “Immunizations are one of the most impactful and cost-effective public health interventions as they protect individuals from the harmful effects of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles.”

Measles has been particularly visible lately with reports coming in from across the GTA of people with the highly contagious, potentially fatal disease. On Feb. 29, York Region Public Health confirmed a 30-year-old man had contracted the virus. They man had gone shopping and ate at a Mississauga restaurant before it was detected. It’s unknown how the man was infected.

A few day before a child who had gone to Pearson Airport, Brantford General Hospital and the McMaster Children’s Hospital  was found to have measles. The child was infected while in Europe, which is seeing a large outbreak, and is currently hospitalized.

The city has scheduled catch-up clinics on March 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11 and 12 at 110 King St. W. from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. “We would strongly encourage students with overdue vaccination records to attend these clinics.”

“As the school year progresses, Hamilton Public Health Services will reassess and plan to resume enforcement including school suspensions under the Immunization of School Pupils Act. Further information will be shared with schools, parents/guardians and students as the planning continues,” the city concluded.


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