We all want to protect our children. From the moment they are born we do whatever we can to keep our children safe both inside and outside the home.
We supervise our children at bath time, install safety gates around the home, keep sharp objects safely out of reach, always use car seats, and teach good hand hygiene. These are just a few of the many things you do as a parent throughout their childhood.
Immunization is absolutely no different and may in fact be one of the most important things you can choose to do to protect your child from serious disease.2
There are many good reasons to choose to immunize your child against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, including:
- Infectious diseases spread easily: Most vaccine-preventable diseases spread very easily from person to person, mostly through coughing and sneezing. The risk of contracting diseases is higher in places where there is crowding (hospitals, shopping malls, transit, schools, and daycare facilities).3
- Vaccines have incredible value: Over the last 50 years, immunization has saved more lives in Canada than any other health care intervention.4
- Prevention is better than a cure: Vaccine-preventable illnesses can become severe, causing high levels of discomfort and potentially lead to permanent damage, even death. Treatment for these diseases may be complicated, requiring costly resources such as medication and hospitalization. In Canada, many vaccines are publically funded. Why take a chance with the health of your family members? Preventing disease with vaccines is quicker, easier, and much less expensive than treatment of the illnesses they prevent.5
- Let’s keep our children healthy: Vaccinating your child puts the control back into your hands. When your child is immune, it doesn’t matter if they come into contact with germs that cause the diseases they’ve received vaccinations for. Vaccines can’t protect them from every disease, but you can go ahead and let kids be kids, knowing they have built-in defenses against nasty bugs out there.6
- Let’s keep our community healthy: Even though vaccine-preventable diseases are, for the most part, uncommon in Canadian communities, it’s still really important not to let down our guard so we can keep it that way. In spite of all the great work we’ve done to make sure everyone is immunized, there are some people in our communities who may be at risk of getting sick. Some people can’t be immunized because they are allergic to the vaccine or have certain medical conditions. Also, no vaccine offers 100% protection. This means there may be people who can still get sick even though they’ve had their vaccinations. And if these people are elderly or have conditions that weaken their immune systems, their risk of becoming severely ill is even higher.7
- Vaccination can even eradicate some diseases: While the aim of vaccination programs is to reduce the impact of vaccine-preventable diseases in our communities, the ultimate goal is complete eradication of these diseases. This has actually been achieved in the case of smallpox, which received official global eradication status in 1980.8
2 Immunize Canada. Immunization Works! immunize.ca/en/learn.aspx. Accessed April 4, 2016.
3 Public Health Agency of Canada. Protect your child from serious diseases. http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/immunization-immunisation/children-enfants/protect-protegez-eng.php. Accessed April 4, 2016.
4 Public Health Agency of Canada. Benefits of Vaccines. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/p01-02-eng.php. Accessed April 5, 2016.
5 Public Health Agency of Canada. Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/vpd-mev/index-eng.php. Accessed April 5, 2016.
6 Public Health Agency of Canada. A Parent’s Guide to Immunization. http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/publications/healthy-living-vie-saine/parent-guide-vaccination/alt/pgi-gpv-eng.pdf. Accessed April 4, 2016.
7 Public Health Agency of Canada. Why do we still need vaccines if the diseases they prevent have disappeared from our part of the world. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/vs-sv/vs-faq07-eng.php. Accessed April 4, 2016.
8 World Health Organization. The Smallpox Eradication Progamme- SEP (1966-1980). http://www.who.int/features/2010/smallpox/en/. Accessed April 4, 2016.