As Ontario battles COIVD-19, local health units are faced with vaccine hesitancy and the challenge of immunizing children aged 5-11 now that Pfizer BionTech's vaccine is seeking federal approval. Studying the history of Ontario's Immunization of School Pupils Act from 1977 to the present using the MMR vaccine as a catalyst for explaining the expected and unexpected consequences of mandatory requirements, reveals the longstanding preference for co-operation rather than compulsion which has dominated public health policy in this province.
Heather MacDougall is an Associate Professor Emeritus from the University of Waterloo History Department. She has published a history of Toronto's Health Department, an online history of Medicare for the Canadian Museum of Civilization and articles on cholera, smallpox, sexually transmitted diseases, and SARS. Her most recent co-authored publication is Beyond the COVID-19 Crisis: Building on Lost Opportunities in Public Health, a policy brief for the Royal Society of Canada.