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Archived - A message from Canada's Chief Public Health Officer - National Immunization Awareness Week 2015
April 25 – May 2, 2015
Today vaccines prevent an estimated two to three million deaths worldwide each year. National Immunization Awareness Week provides an opportunity to reflect on the contribution of vaccines to healthy lives, and to underscore the importance for all Canadians of keeping their vaccinations up to date.
Infectious diseases were once the leading cause of death worldwide. In Canada, thanks in large part to vaccines, they now cause less than 5% of all deaths. Diseases that were once common childhood illnesses – such as polio, diphtheria, and tetanus - are not seen in Canada thanks to vaccines. For example, polio once afflicted 5,000 Canadians a year. Because parents made sure their children were vaccinated, Canada has been polio free for more than 20 years.
Today, the majority of children in Canada are vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases. But, despite the immunization success story, we continue to see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease because of a small number of unimmunized or under-immunized groups. Recent outbreaks of measles – a disease 99% eliminated in Canada – highlights that illness can still emerge. A full regimen of vaccinations protects not only ourselves and our families, but the entire community.
Years of rigorous testing and research have proven that vaccines are safe and effective. I urge anyone who has questions or concerns about vaccines to speak to a healthcare provider.
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, also provides timely and accurate information on vaccines and the diseases they prevent.
Vaccines are also important when you travel outside of Canada where some diseases may be more prevalent due to lower vaccination rates or other factors.
You can also find up-to-date information at canada.ca, where products such as A Parent's Guide to Vaccination, can help explain the importance of vaccines in plain and concise language.
As Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, as a doctor, and as a parent, I urge all Canadians to ensure that you and your families are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases by keeping your vaccinations up to date.
Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer
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