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One of every parent’s greatest fears is the loss or injury of a child. It is hard to imagine that less than one hundred years ago in Canada, 1 in every 10 children died within the first year of life. The majority of these deaths were caused by infectious diseases. Immunization has been a key part of changing that situation. Today, this rate has fallen to about one infant death per two hundred live births, most of which are caused by non-infectious diseases. This progress cannot be taken for granted.
Table 1 highlights the drastic reduction in cases of childhood diseases thanks tovaccine programs. For information on the immunization schedule for Ontario and/or where to get vaccinated, see the health unit’s website on immunization.
Source: National Advisory Committee on Immunization, Canadian Immunization Guide, 2006.
Although reduced, many of these diseases still exist in Canada so it is important to get vaccinated. Vaccines trigger our bodies to make specific antibodies (or army of immune cells) to fight these diseases. Without the right antibodies, people who are otherwise healthy are vulnerable to infection. People visiting other countries can bring vaccine preventable diseases back to Canada such as the over 600 cases of measles in Quebec reported in the first half of 2011, some of which were imported from Europe before infecting others.
Vaccine preventable diseases will begin to spread if people stop getting immunized. In the past century, there have been great strides in prolonging life expectancy in developed countries through improved nutrition, sanitation, reduced smoking rates and other factors. These same factors can NOT significantly reduce the transmission of vaccine preventable diseases. Immunization is the only way to protect ourselves and others against these diseases.
This section of the HealthSTATS website has information on:
Incidence of diseases preventable by routine childhood immunization
Vaccine coverage Vaccine safety
Page Last Modified: Thursday, 17 November 2011.