When I was growing up in the 1970’s, it was a given that all children received vaccinations to prevent life-threatening diseases such as mumps, measles, and tetanus.
After all, many adults from my parents’ generation had vivid memories of people they knew who didn’t have the chance to be vaccinated for diseases such as polio. These people either died from polio or were affected for the rest of their lives by this horrible disease.
My parents were determined to make sure I was given every vaccine available to ensure that I never contracted any preventable disease. There was never any doubt in their mind they were doing the right thing for me.
I still have strong memories from my childhood regarding vaccinations. One memory involves my mother telling me not to worry about getting mumps after a classmate became sick with the disease. I remember feeling scared that I would catch the mumps from my schoolmate. Mum told me I had been vaccinated against this disease and that this would protect me from the mumps. And it did.
I have another memory of an outbreak of Typhoid Fever in my hometown in the mid-1970s. A number of kids fell sick with the disease (a disease that is rare in Canada) and a warning went out to parents about this outbreak. I had been taking swimming lessons at a local pool at the time and, due to the outbreak, they closed down the pool that summer. While this outbreak did not directly affect me, I still remember the fear I felt that this life-threatening disease had affected kids where I lived. I could sense the fear from my parents and the parents of my friends.
Today, there is a lot of controversy surrounding vaccinations. Many parents question whether or not they should vaccinate their children.
For us, there is no question. Vaccinations help protect against illness and outbreaks in communities, and they protect our most precious possessions — our children.
FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT VACCINATIONS:
- Babies in the first two years of life are especially at risk of getting one of many serious childhood diseases that can be prevented through immunization.
- If too many people delay or refuse vaccines, more cases of serious diseases can be spread. Choosing to vaccinate your child protects them from disease and protects vulnerable children who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.
- Most vaccines need more than one dose over time to produce full protection. That’s why it’s important to follow the immunization schedule—it gives the best protection with the fewest doses of each vaccine.
- The best thing parents can do is stick to the vaccination schedule available on Ontario.ca/vaccines. On the site, there is an easy-to-use immunization scheduler online to help new parents stay on top of their child’s appointments with their doctor.
- In order to attend school in Ontario, children must be immunized against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox (required for children born in or after 2010), meningococcal disease, and whooping-cough (unless they have a valid exemption).
- Routine vaccinations for babies, children, and adults are offered free of charge in Ontario if you meet the eligibility criteria.
- Vaccinations make your body stronger and more resistant to disease. No matter how healthy you are, you could get very sick or even die, without vaccines to protect you.
When should parents get their school-age children vaccinated?
- At 4 and 6 years old, children should receive the following vaccines: tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox.
- In grade 7, children should receive the following vaccines: meningococcal conjugate (Men-C-ACYW), hepatitis b, human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Between 14 and 16 years old, teens should receive the following vaccines: tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis.
X-Man has been fully vaccinated with all the age-appropriate vaccinations for him. X-Man has lived with many allergies throughout his life, including a life-threatening peanut allergy. The risk of reaction for X-Man has never changed our thoughts on the importance of making sure he is fully vaccinated against all of these horrible diseases.
For us, there is no question. Vaccinations save lives—the lives of our precious children.
Like many things Canadians take for granted, we often forget how lucky we are to have access to vaccinations that help keep our children safe from life-threatening, infectious diseases. So many children around the world don’t have access to vaccines, leaving them extremely vulnerable to these diseases.
Today, we live in a global village. We travel extensively to countries we once never considered visiting.
Countries where life-threatening diseases still exist and continue to take the lives of children.
Life-threatening diseases that are extremely rare here in Canada, brought back by an infected traveler, could infect our children if they are not adequately vaccinated against these diseases.
For those of us in the “sandwich generation,” the importance of vaccinations extends from our children right up to our elderly parents. Without the protection of vaccinations, we leave these important family members extremely vulnerable.
To this day, I continue to make sure I am adequately vaccinated against preventable diseases. I always review my vaccination records with my family doctor during my annual physical exam. This year that meant a tetanus and whooping-cough booster for me.
Please take some time to educate yourself on how vaccines can keep your kids—and you —healthy. Our kids count on us to keep them safe.
For questions or concerns about vaccinations for your child, please be sure to consult your family doctor. You can also visit Ontario.ca/vaccines
This post was developed in association with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions are my own.