Statement Article from  Public Health Agency of Canada

Archived - Chief Public Health Officer Statement on the release of Comprehensive New Data on Immunization Rates

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Immunization saves lives. Common infectious diseases that were once a major cause of illness and death, particularly among children, have been significantly reduced through immunization. Years of rigorous testing and research have proven that vaccines are safe and effective.

Today, the Government of Canada released results of a comprehensive survey of immunization rates for childhood. The data gathered in the 2013 Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey - the largest survey of its kind in Canada - will improve our understanding of immunization coverage, and the range of attitudes toward immunization. This data contributes valuable information to governments, policymakers and stakeholders as they continue to respond to the public health needs of Canadians.

The 2013 survey shows the large majority of Canadian children are immunized against common illness such as measles, mumps, rubella, meningitis and polio. In fact, only 1.5 per cent of the parents surveyed report never having immunized their children. And a large majority - more than 97 per cent - of parents agree that immunization is important for their children.

However, the 2013 survey shows 23% of children are not receiving the full four recommended doses of the Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus vaccine by age two. We need more analysis of this data, but it appears this is likely the result of delays in getting the last dose on time.

It is now easier to keep track of your family's vaccination records with the help of a free, bilingual, Canadian mobile application (app), ImmunizeCA. The app, developed with funding provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada, also provides timely and accurate information on vaccines and the diseases they prevent.

We are fortunate that safe and effective vaccines are available across the country to prevent serious diseases and save lives. Overall, Canada has immunization rates that are among the highest in the world. This is demonstrated through the very low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases in Canada. However, we cannot take the immunization success story for granted. We continue to see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, because there are Canadians who are not immunized or are under-immunized.

The Government of Canada remains committed to working with provincial and territorial health authorities and stakeholders to maintain and improve Canada's immunization rates. The Health Portfolio spends more than $18 million each year on immunization activities. Through our efforts, the Government of Canada helps ensure the safety of vaccines, supports research on immunization, and promotes immunization.

To promote vaccine uptake, the Public Health Agency produces resources, such as A Parent's Guide to Vaccination, and awareness materials to help Canadians understand the importance of immunization.

This survey reminds us that if we want to protect our children from disease we cannot be complacent. Protect yourself, your children and your communities - make sure to immunize your children on time and keep your vaccinations up-to-date.

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Hon. Rona Ambrose Public Health Agency of Canada Health and Safety

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