Parents urged to keep vaccinations up to date

Parents can ensure children are protected from harmful diseases by taking advantage of school-based immunization clinics underway this fall

Parents can ensure their children are protected from harmful diseases by taking advantage of regular school-based immunization clinics getting underway this fall.

The BC Centre for Disease Control and Immunize BC are urging parents to review their child’s immunization record and keep vaccination schedules up to date.

Many students are now receiving vaccination information and school-based schedules from their school’s public health nurses.

“Vaccines prolong and save lives. Even diseases that we don’t see much anymore still have the potential to cause harm by infecting those who are not fully protected,” said Dr. Monika Naus, medical director, Immunization and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Service, BCCDC.

“That’s why being fully up-to-date with all of your shots is not only the best way to safeguard yourself, but also helps to protect the entire community.”

Recent reports in British Columbia of measles and pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks point to the need to focus attention on the importance of vaccinations for all age groups.

Most kids in kindergarten or those starting high school need a booster shot for illnesses such as tetanus, chicken pox and meningitis group C.

The current B.C. immunization schedule is comprised of vaccines that protect against 13 infectious diseases, including diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, Haemophilus influenzae b, hepatitis B, meningococcal group C disease, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.

These vaccines are offered to a variety of age groups in schools but can also be requested at public health units, child health clinics, and physicians’ offices. Children aged five and older may also be immunized by certified pharmacists.

“I encourage all parents to ensure that their children are up-to-date with their vaccines, and to take advantage of the school-based immunizations available,” said Terry Lake, BC Minister of Health.

For more information on immunization programs in British Columbia, go online to: www.immunizebc.ca

Facts:

n Immunization coverage rates have remained relatively constant in B.C.  However, about one-third of B.C. children are not completely up-to-date for all their routine infant and toddler immunizations by the time they turn two years of age.

n In B.C., school-aged children are offered immunizations in Grade 6 and in Grade 9. These immunizations are offered at school during clinics administered by public health nurses. Most regions of the province give school entry booster doses to children outside of school settings where they can be accompanied by their parent or guardian. In Vancouver Coastal, these clinics are also offered in the school setting.

n The following vaccines are routinely offered to all students in Grade 6:

– Hepatitis B vaccine (children who have had three doses of hepatitis B vaccine when they were infants or before entering Grade 6 do not need the vaccine)

– Meningococcal C vaccine (children who have had a meningococcal C containing vaccine at 10 years of age or older do not need the vaccine)

– Chickenpox vaccine (children who have had two doses of chickenpox vaccine or chickenpox disease or shingles after one year of age do not need the vaccine)

– Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (offered to female students only, with two doses given in Grade 6 and a third dose in Grade 9)

– The following vaccines are routinely offered to all students in Grade 9:

– Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine

– Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (offered to female students only, with the third dose routinely given in Grade 9)