To help protect everyone Public Health is asking parents with kids going to kindergarten in September to have their children immunized now, before school starts. Children who got their infant shots will now need two more shots, in total, to protect against:
- chicken pox (varicella)
- whooping cough (pertussis)
While serious childhood diseases such as polio and diphtheria are becoming rarer due to routine childhood vaccination programs, there’s still cause for concern.
“Many of these diseases are still circulating,” VCH Medical Health Officer Dr. Emily Newhouse says. “Currently there’s an outbreak of mumps in Whistler. We continue to see people with whooping cough. And every year, measles virus is imported into the Lower Mainland through unimmunized residents who pick up the virus during their travels, and expose fellow travelers on flights, in airports or people at home.”
“These diseases are highly infectious and can spread quickly among those who aren’t vaccinated. It’s critical that parents have their kids immunized before they start kindergarten in the fall, so we prevent the spread of illness as much as possible,” Dr. Newhouse says.
Vaccines are free and can be obtained from family doctors or from public health nurses at VCH community health centres. A map of clinic dates and times is available on the VCH website
High immunization rates are key in preventing diseases like pertussis from affecting communities. When most people are vaccinated against a disease, it makes it harder for the disease to spread. This is known as “herd immunity”, which helps ensure those who are most vulnerable to diseases are protected. In 2014/15, 81 per cent of children in Vancouver were fully up to date with their Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, and Polio (DTaP-P) vaccination, one of the key vaccines children receive.
Parents can check the immunization rates for their schools on the VCH website
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
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