One hundred years ago, infectious diseases were the leading cause of death worldwide. In Canada, they now cause less than 5% of all deaths – thanks to immunization programs across the country.
Do vaccines work?
Vaccines work very well. Immunization protects individuals and communities by preventing the spread of disease. As more people are immunized, the disease risk for everyone is reduced. Immunization has saved more lives in Canada in the last 50 years than any other health intervention.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines used in Canada are very safe. They are one of the most rigorously researched and monitored areas of medicine. Most vaccine side effects are minor and self-limited, lasting only a few days and not disrupting daily activities. Serious allergic reactions from vaccines are extremely rare and are reported immediately to the Public Health Agency of Canada so that any problems can be dealt with quickly.
Immunizations for children
Immunization protects children from some serious diseases that can make them very sick and even cause death. It also protects against potentially serious complications of the diseases. Although we rarely see most of these diseases in Canada now, they still exist. If we stop vaccinating children, these diseases will return. Children in Ontario must be immunized to attend school or daycare. This vaccination schedule for Ontario residents will tell you which vaccines are needed at what age.
I’m an adult – do I need to be vaccinated too?
Adults need to keep their immunization (vaccination) up to date for several reasons:
- Some vaccines do not offer lifelong protection so a booster is required, i.e. tetanus
- Fully immunized adults can help protect vulnerable populations (such as infants, elderly, etc.) who have not been immunized or who are unable to be immunized.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases can occur at any time because the bacteria and viruses that cause these infections have not been eliminated, i.e. HPV, Hepatitis, Herpes Zoster.
- Diseases rarely found in Canada are common in other parts of the world. If you travel outside North America it is important to be protected from diseases that are not common at home.
Talk to your family doctor about which of these vaccines recommended for you. List of recommended adult vaccines.
How do I update my child’s immunization booklet or my own?
Immunization booklets can be updated at any visit to the clinic. You can also call the clinic and leave a message for your family physician’s nurse – we will follow-up with you to update your information.
Do I have to pay?
For childhood vaccines: Routine childhood vaccines are usually free of charge.
Adult vaccines: Seniors or people with chronic diseases are at higher risk for certain diseases, and they receive vaccines to protect against these diseases free of charge. Other adult vaccines are available at a cost as they are not covered by the provincial health insurance, i.e. OHIP.
Seasonal influenza, commonly called “the flu,” is caused by influenza viruses, which infect the respiratory tract (i.e., the nose, throat, lungs). Influenza tends to spread rapidly in seasonal epidemics. Most infected people recover within one to two weeks without requiring medical treatment. However, in the very young, the elderly, and those with other serious medical conditions, infection can lead to severe complications of the underlying condition, pneumonia and death. Our healthcare professionals strongly encourage you to get your flu shot. It is the single best way to prevent the flu.
Where to obtain the flu shot
You will be able to ask for your flu shot at the walk-in clinic or when you come in for your next regular appointment with your family physician or nurse practitioner.
Track your immunizations with the ImmunizeCA App!
What does it do?
Provides Canadians with the ability to:
- Easily record and store vaccine information
- Access vaccination schedules
- Manage vaccination appointments for the entire family
- Access evidence-based and expert-reviewed information about recommended and routine vaccinations for children, adults and travellers
- Receive alerts about disease outbreaks in their area
Where can I get the app?
The ImmunizeCA app is free. It can be downloaded from iTunes, GooglePlay or BlackBerry World. Blackberry users, please note that ImmunizeCA is currently available for Blackberry devices that are compatible with Android such as the Z10.
Reading suggestion : Your Child’s Best Shot (4th edition): Canadian Paediatric Society