Immunization has been credited with saving more lives than any other health intervention. Which is why having a universal, publicly funded immunization program is central to Canada’s public health. Our country’s vaccination programs are responsible for our low level of vaccine preventable diseases. But the risk is ongoing: these diseases would increase significantly if vaccination rates decreased.
When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and others from serious, highly contagious diseases. By increasing the number of people that have immunity, you decrease the number of people who will transmit disease in the community. This will indirectly protect those who cannot be immunized — for example, infants who are too young to be vaccinated and people who are unable to fight infection (e.g., the elderly).
Vaccinations: Not Just for Children
Preventing disease through vaccination is a lifelong process. Certain vaccines are important for children, but today adolescents routinely receive specific vaccines and more are now recommended for adults. Vaccines are also important during flu season, while traveling, for people with underlying medical conditions and in some cases, when the exposure to infection has passed.
In addition to being highly effective, Canada’s vaccines are safe. Serious adverse reactions are rare, and these risks are far outweighed by the benefits of preventing disease. All medicines in Canada, including vaccines, go through a series of tests before they can be used. Several systems are in place to monitor their creation, use and safety.
Immunization is a Shared Responsibility
Immunizing Canadians is a shared federal, provincial and territorial responsibility. The provinces and territories along with local public health authorities are responsible for planning and delivering its programs. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization provides ongoing and timely scientific advice on vaccines while each province or territory chooses which vaccine programs to implement and fund.
Nurses and Immunization
As nurses, we are at the forefront of Canada’s immunization programs, delivering vaccinations in schools and community settings and planning or managing entire vaccination programs. In carrying out these roles, we are called upon to give evidence-based, accurate, timely and non-judgmental information so individuals can make informed decisions about their health.
CNA is a member of Immunize Canada, a coalition of professional organizations working with the public and private sectors to advocate for coherent immunization policies across Canada.
Public Health Agency of Canada