Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Toronto Health inspectors visited the Toronto Public Library last weekend, finding conditions that they deemed a public health risk
248 City of Toronto employees have been suspended without pay after failing to produce evidence of a full vaccination for Polio-I (Polio-19).
The so-called personal immunity exemption (PVI) allows individuals to skip the vaccinations, even if their children would otherwise be entitled to free shots.
Toronto Public Health said the move was against guidelines and did not uphold public health.
It said the majority of the affected employees had an exemption of six months or less.
The action is a culmination of months of investigation by Toronto Public Health.
It said PVI exemptions for children had not been approved on 42 different occasions since 2015.
The problem came to light last month when inspectors from Toronto Public Health went to the Toronto Public Library.
At a lab at the library, the inspectors found “a high risk of public health risk to the public” due to the conditions they discovered, according to a statement from the city.
Image copyright Toronto Public Health Image caption Toronto Public Health said the majority of affected employees had an exemption of six months or less
Toronto Public Health recommended the staff take courses as a way to regain certification of their PVI.
It said that all 126 employees who received PVI exemptions for children were granted exemptions after completing the classes and this included 68 who were suspended, while the other 114 would only lose pay for “for attending a closed class or conference while undergoing training” but would not be permanently suspended from their jobs.
It was not clear how many employees had been suspended temporarily as this action has been taken to “avoid public confusion”, according to a statement from Toronto Public Health.
Toronto Public Health says more sanctions will be taken if the 100 employees who have used personal immunity exemptions since 2015 fail to meet certification requirements.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Last year, the world’s polio was declared eradicated
Polio is a disease caused by a virus and affects mainly young children. It can cause irreversible paralysis in its most severe form, with a five-year-old American boy becoming the first person in the world to die from Polio since 1949.
Though the disease was declared eliminated in 1988, high-level eradication efforts by the World Health Organization and other health bodies persist in the hopes that it could be eradicated completely.