Did you know that after just 12 years of universal vaccinations in Western Europe, North America, and Asia, the number of polio cases went from 76,000 to 1,013? That's a reduction of 99 per cent.
A lot of people wonder why it is important to keep their immunizations up-to-date if a disease isn't seen in Canada anymore. The reason is that as long as a disease exists in any other part of the world, people living in Canada are still at risk of getting it. This risk is greater for those who have never been immunized or do not keep their immunizations up-to-date.
Let's talk about whooping cough. You may have heard that over the last three years in Saskatchewan there has been an increase in the number cases of whooping cough. In fact, since 2010, there have been 120 cases, mainly in young children and adolescents. Whooping cough is highly contagious and can be dangerous, particularly for young children, but it can be prevented through immunization.
April 20 to 27 is National Immunization Week. Immunizations or vaccinations are a way of protecting you and your children against diseases that are caused by viruses or bacteria. Vaccinations can help prevent diseases, both individually and among groups of people. The World Health Organization states that "by making sure that you and your family are up-to-date with the vaccines you need, you give yourselves the best chance for a healthy future."
Why do immunizations work? Vaccines contain weak or dead forms of bacteria or molecules that cause a certain disease. Although these can have side effects for some, for the majority they are harmless and will not cause illness. When a vaccine is injected into the body, it produces antibodies to fight the vaccine. The antibodies help your immune system to fight diseases if you are exposed to them in the future. Sometimes you have to get more than one dose of a vaccine to make sure that the antibodies are made.
In Canada, children are immunized against 13 preventable diseases. These vaccines are safe and free. They are an effective way to protect children from common communicable diseases like tetanus, whooping cough, and measles. Before a child is two years old, he or she should have had five immunization appointments.
To check Saskatchewan's recommended immunization schedule, go to www.health.gov.sk/immunization.schedule.