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MAKING A POINT

- Stay Up-to-Date on Immunizations No Matter Your Age, as Vaccines Are Safe and Effective, Health Unit Says -

While vaccines have been protecting people from diseases for decades, it’s important not to take immunization for granted, a local public health official says.

Despite immunization being considered one of the major medical breakthroughs of the last century, there is hesitancy – and even skepticism – in some quarters about why people should continue to be vaccinated. This doubt, however small, is something that the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is addressing during Immunization Awareness Week (April 23-30).

“Vaccines are safe and effective, and continue to be very relevant in today’s world,” says Marianne Rock, Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation with the HKPR District Health Unit. “There should be no hesitancy, because vaccines have saved more lives in recent decades than almost any other health intervention.”

People can find a lot of misinformation about vaccines on the Internet, and Rock admits this may contribute to the drop in vaccination rates in some areas. The Health Unit encourages people to look for credible online sources of information about vaccines, including the Canadian Paediatric Society, Immunize Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Vaccine hesitancy may also be fueled by the fact that many diseases such as diphtheria, polio, tetanus, whooping cough and measles no longer take a dreadful and deadly toll on people thanks to mass immunizations. “Today, because of wide-spread vaccination efforts, illnesses and deaths from these vaccine-preventable diseases have been dramatically reduced,” Rock says. “Without ongoing immunization, we risk the return of these harmful diseases.”

In Canada, Rock notes that vaccines are developed with the highest standards. On average, it takes about 10 years of research and development before a vaccine is considered for approval by Health Canada. Once available for use, federal regulators continually monitor vaccines for safety and effectiveness with the help of public health staff and health care providers.

Ontario provides publicly-funded vaccines that are recommended to people of all ages to protect against various diseases. More details and a list of these vaccines is available by calling the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577 or visiting www.hkpr.on.ca.

“It’s important that people, no matter what their age or stage of life, follow the schedule of vaccines to ensure they and their loved ones are fully protected against disease,” says Rock.

While a child should get all the recommended vaccinations, she says the same rule applies to adults. One example is a tetanus booster shot that is recommended for adults every 10 years. For seniors, getting immunized for certain diseases is also advisable, including the annual flu shot and vaccines that protect against pneumococcal disease.

For media inquiries, contact:

Marianne Rock, Manager of Communicable Disease Control, Epidemiology and Evaluation, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or 1-866-888-4577.

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