In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month in August, Island Health is highlighting the importance of immunizations for children, youth and adults.
The fight against COVID has shown us how powerful a tool vaccines are. “Vaccines save lives – for people of all ages,” says Dr. Michael Benusic, Medical Heath Officer. “Whether the target is COVID-19, or other diseases such as tetanus, polio or measles, vaccines are vital. When you're vaccinated, you help protect both yourself and those around you.”
Ironically, the effectiveness of vaccines can lead to complacency and fewer people being vaccinated – thereby increasing the risk of outbreaks. For example, before vaccines were available, more than 50,000 people were infected with measles in Canada each year. By 2019 that number had shrunk to only 100.
Notes Dr. Benusic, “in 2014, for example, there were more than 300 cases of measles in B.C. This is important because measles infection has risks of blindness, brain damage and death especially for young children.”
Island Health’s public health teams have called thousands of families whose children are about to enter school, or are already in kindergarten, to inform them about clinics and help them make appointments. If you didn’t get a phone call, please phone your local public health unit.
- Visit our Health Unit Locations webpage to find a health unit near you.
- Find your child’s vaccination status at ImmunizeBC or call your local public health unit.
- Visit ImmunizeBC to learn more about B.C.’s routine vaccine schedule for infants and children, including illnesses targeted by kindergarten vaccinations.
- Information on COVID-19 appointments for ages 6 months and up is available here.
Adults should check their own immunization records regularly. Adults may be at-risk for new and different diseases than children depending on age, job, lifestyle, health conditions, travel plans and vaccines received in the past. In addition, some vaccines require a booster and new vaccines may become available.
Immunization schedules for adults, school-age youth and infants/children are available at ImmunizeBC. If you are over 18 years of age, please follow up with your family doctor or pharmacist to confirm vaccine availability and book an appointment. Sign up for appointment reminders.