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Protect Yourself. Protect Others. Get Immunized.

Joan Johnston, BN RN MEd
Saint John Area Immunization Coordinator

Frantic parents arrive in the Emergency Department with 4 month old Lucy. Her parents report that she had another "coughing fit" and stopped breathing. She vomits after every feeding and has a high fever. Lucy is diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough). The baby is admitted to the intensive care unit.

It is 27 year old Laura's third visit to the Emergency Department. Her condition has been steadily worsening since her last visit. Her eyes are watery and inflamed. She has a cough, fever and runny nose. A dusky red, blotchy rash is now visible on her face and has spread to the rest of her body. She has been unable to drink or eat because her mouth and throat are too sore. Upon examination, small reddish blue spots with white centers are visible on the inside of her mouth. Laura is admitted with a diagnosis of measles and placed in isolation.

Both of these situations could have been prevented.

The more people that get immunized and stay up-to-date, the better protection for everyone. Immunization protects both individuals like Laura, and the larger population by preventing the spread of infections. When a population is well immunized it protects those who are more vulnerable to disease such as Lucy, who is not yet fully immunized. It also protects those who are unable to be immunized due to an underlying illness or a weak immune system such as the very young and the elderly.  

Routine immunization and boosters are necessary throughout your entire life in order to keep your immune response strong. And remember, that while it's still possible for a person who has been immunized against a particular disease to get it, the severity of symptoms of the disease is less likely.

While there are many vaccine-preventable diseases that are not very common inCanada, it doesn't mean you are always safe from getting them. Travelers can carry diseases from country to country, and if you are not immunized, you are at risk.  A recent outbreak of measles was imported into Canada this way.

Vaccines are extensively tested and are among the safest products available. Serious side effects such as severe allergic reactions are very rare. Vaccines save lives and make it possible for people to live free of the illness and disability associated with many communicable diseases.

It is very important to keep your immunizations current and to keep your records in a safe place.

Protect Yourself.  Protect Others. Get Immunized.

Immunization Awareness Video

For further information about pertussis (whooping cough)

For further information about vaccines and travel visit

 

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