||Immunization schedule and information
Immunization also creates immunity by causing your body to make antibodies in
response to the vaccine that gets injected. These antibodies protect you from getting
sick if your body comes into contact with that particular disease in the future.
||Immunization information for parents
Report student immunization
What is immunity?
When you get sick, your body makes antibodies or
fighters to fight the disease and help you get better. These fighters stay in your body
even after the disease has gone, and protect you from getting the same illness again.
This is called immunity.
Babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies which they got
from their mothers during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Unfortunately, this immunity
does not last forever, wearing off during the first year of life. Fortunately, there is
something we can do to help keep our children immune. We can immunize them.
Why is immunization important?
Immunization is important because it provides children with immunity to serious
diseases. Without this protection children would have to experience the disease itself in
order to get immunity. If your child's immunization is up-to-date, s/he will have the best
protection against these preventable diseases.
Why is it important to maintain a high level of immunization?
In Canada, the challenge is to keep the immunization rates high so that outbreaks of
disease do not happen. Whenever immunization rates drop, diseases come back. In the
Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, for example, there was a
diphtheria epidemic due to the breakdown of public health services in the area. From
1990-1998 there were more than 150,000 cases of diphtheria and 5,000 deaths.
Although most vaccine-preventable diseases are rare in Canada due to high levels of
immunization, they are common in other parts of the world. Travelers can carry them
from country to country, and if people are not protected by vaccination, these diseases
will spread quickly.
Why are booster shots important?
To receive the best protection against diseases, some vaccines require a booster dose,
often before children enter school. It is important that children get the booster doses
during this time because they are most likely to come into contact with other children
who have not had their shots. Without another "boost" of immunity, protection
decreases and the child could become sick if they come into contact with the disease.
How safe is immunization?
Vaccines are among the safest tools of modern medicine. Serious side effects are rare.
Severe allergic reactions can occur, but the level of risk is small. In Canada, this kind of
reaction has occurred less often than once in every one million doses of vaccine.
Without exception, the risks of serious vaccine side effects are much smaller than the
danger posed by the disease itself.
Minor side effects from vaccines are common such
as swelling and tenderness at the spot where the vaccine is injected, and mild fevers.
These reactions are troublesome but do not usually last long. Talk to your doctor about
how these reactions can be prevented or minimized.
Vaccine safety is not taken for granted. Each new vaccine must pass a rigorous licensing procedure by the
government before it is introduced, and once it is being used it continues to be tested
for safety and quality. In addition, any severe reactions are reported to the Canadian Adverse Events Following Immunization Surveillance System in Ottawa. The result is that our
current vaccines are very safe.
What if I choose not to have my child immunized?
You may decide because of medical, religious or philosophical reasons not to immunize
your child. Most of the childhood diseases are spread easily. If your child has not had
his/her shots and comes into contact with someone who has measles or whooping
cough for example, there is a good chance they will get sick. As a precaution, if the
disease appears in your child's school or nursery, your child may have to stay out of
school until the disease is gone.
What steps should I take to protect my child?
- Ask your doctor if your child's immunization is up-to-date and ask for a written record
(the "Yellow Card") to help you keep track of your child's shots. Keep this record in
a safe place.
- If your child's immunization is not up-to-date, call your doctor or community health
centre to set up a time for your child's shots.
- Call the Toronto Public Health Immunization Infoline at 416-392-1250 for further
assistance. This phone line offers: answers to questions about immunization,
information on vaccines and when they should be given and opportunities to update
the immunization records of children and youth living in Toronto once vaccines are