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Don’t hesitate, vaccinate

Vaccine2One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to make sure your child is vaccinated against the recommended 13 vaccine preventable diseases. Vaccines have saved the lives of more babies and children than any other medical intervention in the past 50 years. The World Health Organization estimates that every year more than 2 million deaths are prevented due to vaccination.

Because of vaccines there is no longer smallpox, and they have controlled other diseases such as polio and whooping cough which once caused large numbers of illnesses and deaths. Vaccines used in Canada are safe with an extremely low risk of serious side effects. The risk of severe complications from disease is much greater than any risk associated with vaccines. Serious side effects occur very rarely, less than one in every one million doses of vaccine. The majority of side effects from vaccines are minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild  fever.

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, Canadian Pediatric Society and Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) all strongly recommend vaccinating your children as it is the best way to prevent illness and death caused by serious disease. Because of vaccines, we don’t see many childhood diseases anymore. But that is not a reason to let down our guard. If vaccination rates drop, these diseases will return to circulation. In some cases, they are only a plane ride away. Travellers can unknowingly bring these diseases into Canada, and if we are not protected by vaccines, these diseases could quickly spread. Without the protection we get from vaccines, a few cases could quickly become many cases.

Diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps and rubella have decreased due to vaccine programs. At a time they were a significant threat, now only a few cases of these diseases occur each year. Other diseases such as pertussis, hepatitis and influenza still exist, but the rates of illness are now lower because of vaccines.

It is important to keep your vaccines up to date and if you are behind on your shots, contact your health care provider. If you have a child attending daycare or school, you must report the vaccine dates to the Health Unit as health care providers do not do this.