Interior Health is continuing to encourage residents to get immunized and protect their community against preventable diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough.
Recent measles outbreaks this year in Ontario and Disneyland, and last year’s outbreak in the Fraser Valley, are reminders of why immunization is important, says IH.
“We’re fortunate in B.C. to have a comprehensive immunization program for children,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.
“These vaccines are free and easily available through public health clinics, doctors’ offices and school-based programs. By taking advantage of this program, parents are not only protecting their own children but others in the community as well.”
The more people immunized leads to greater protection for those who cannot be or have weakened immune systems, like babies or those with health conditions.
“An immunization rate of at least 90 per cent helps protect vulnerable people in the community. When the majority of people are vaccinated for a disease, it becomes harder for the disease to spread from person to person, says Dr. Althea Hayden, a physician with Interior Health.
“When immunization rates drop, diseases come back. This puts our most vulnerable citizens at risk.”
IH says 71 per cent of children have completed their immunizations by two years of age, which is slightly above the provincial rate of 68 per cent.
“Many of today’s parents have not seen vaccine preventable diseases in their lifetimes; thanks to very successful immunization programs, so they don’t realize how dangerous these diseases can be,” said Hayden. “Measles and chickenpox viruses can lead to serious complications like pneumonia and encephalitis (brain swelling). Pertussis (whooping cough) can cause seizures and brain damage in babies and mumps infection can result in deafness.”