Over the last century, vaccines have saved more lives than any other health intervention. The World Health Organization estimates that 2 to 3 million lives are spared each year as a result of immunization.
Immunization prevents disease, improves health and reduces pressure on the health care system. It is important to note that immunization does not only protect you or your child, it is meant to provide “herd immunity”. Herd immunity provides indirect protection from vaccine-preventable diseases to infants too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women, the elderly, those that cannot be vaccinated and the immunocompromised. Herd immunity is achieved when a large enough proportion of the population is immune to a disease making it difficult for the disease to spread.
The vast majority of vaccine-preventable diseases still exist, even though they are rarely seen in Canada. If immunization rates were to fall in Canada, the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases would increase. This has been observed in other countries were large epidemics have resulted in huge numbers of preventable hospitalizations and deaths. These diseases can range from mild to life-threatening. In most cases there is no way to know if you or your child will get a mild or serious case.
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to vaccine preventable diseases due to their immature immune systems being less able to fight off infection. The Canadian immunization schedule is timed to ensure that infants are protected from diseases most likely to cause harm. Any delay in immunization can result in unnecessary risk. Immunization is not only important in infants, older children and adults also require immunizations. Immunization gives your immune system a boost as well as builds new protection against diseases that are more common in these age groups.
Everyday you are exposed to millions of germs that keep your immune system working and protecting you. Therefore, vaccinations are easily handled by the immune system. Although it is true that no vaccine is 100% safe or effective, serious adverse effects are rare. The threats posed by the diseases that the vaccine prevents are many times greater. Canadian vaccines are put through rigorous scientific testing and review prior to use in order to ensure quality, safety and effectiveness. Scientific studies have repeatedly found no link between autism and vaccination. Vaccines do not contain harmful preservatives or additives.
Ask your primary care provider today what you can do to help keep your family and loved ones safe!