Immunization saves lives

Immunization saves lives. A century ago, because of infectious disease, too many children never saw their fifth birthday. Today, almost all the same diseases exist, but we are protected by immunization.

National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada is April 24 to May 1, 2010. Everyone – not just parents of small children – is encouraged to learn more about how to protect themselves against vaccine-preventable disease.

The Canadian Immunization Guide recommends immunization beginning at 2 months of age and continuing through all stages of life. “Following a standard schedule ensures that the maximal achievable protection is achieved.” (CIG, p. 93)

“It is critically important that parents make sure their children receive all doses of the recommended vaccines. Otherwise they are at risk of some very serious diseases,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry, Chair of the Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness & Promotion (CCIAP). “Infants are particularly vulnerable to many diseases that vaccines prevent since they have not yet developed immunity to the bacteria and viruses that cause them. Immunization triggers their immune systems to be prepared to protect them from these serious diseases.”

Recent outbreaks of measles in Canada emphasized the importance of immunization.

Although receiving immunizations during childhood is critical, some vaccines will not provide lifelong immunity against some diseases such as tetanus (lockjaw). Helper, or booster, shots are required to maintain immunity. A tetanus booster dose is recommended every ten years.

“Adults who were not adequately immunized as children may be at risk of infection from other vaccine-preventable diseases,” says Dr. Susan Bowles, Vice Chair of the CCIAP. “Not only are under-immunized adults at risk of contracting diseases themselves – they can also infect others. For example, adults who contract measles, mumps or pertussis (whooping cough) can infect infants who may not yet be fully immunized. These are two good reasons for continuing to ensure your immunization record is up to date.”

Immunization saves lives. Protect yourself, your family and your community.

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