Vaccination has been proven effective against many serious and contagious diseases for many years. Let's debunk some myths.
What is the immunization program?
We are fortunate to live in a society with excellent health conditions. However, we mustn't let our guard down in the face of certain contagious diseases that can leave after-effects. Current events remind us of this every time a disease that was once under control, resurfaces. The Quebec Immunization Program offers vaccines that provide protection against:
- whooping cough
- rotavirus gastroenteritis
- Flu (influenza)
- hepatitis A and B
- meningococcal infection
- pneumococcal infection
- severe Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) infections
- human papilloma virus (HPV) infections
Anyone in the general population can receive vaccines included in the immunization schedule at no cost. Some people are also eligible for other vaccines free of charge due to their health, lifestyle or work. Ask a healthcare professional if your child needs additional vaccines.
When should my child's immunization begin?
The immunization schedule has been established based on scientific knowledge. Therefore, vaccines are:
- administered when the risk of contracting a disease is at its highest
- effective at the age at which they are administered
- administered at an age when they cause the fewest symptoms
The first vaccines are administered as early as two months of age. Because the risk of getting many diseases is very high during the first year, your child will receive most of the vaccines during the first 18 months of life.
It may seem surprising that your child receives several shots for the same vaccine (booster doses). It is important to understand that not only does the vaccine have to provide short-term protection, but it also has to last over time. Therefore, it is advisable to follow the immunization schedule without deviating from it, so that your child receives all the necessary doses for optimal protection.
How can the vaccines for my child be obtained?
It is advisable to follow the determined immunization schedule from the moment your child is born. It is recommended to be consistent with your appointments.
To make up for an oversight, a delay or simply because you have changed your mind about vaccination, contact your CLSC or doctor. If you don't have a family doctor, Info-Santé 8-1-1 will direct you to the vaccination site closest to your home. Remember to bring your child's vaccination record to the appointment.
Why must my child receive vaccines?
Vaccines have made some diseases rare and others have disappeared altogether. The dramatic consequences of these diseases are decreasing in the population, mainly due to immunization.
Unvaccinated children are at greater risk of contracting a contagious disease. The risk is present even if a very large number of children in their environment are vaccinated.
Breastfeeding and a healthy diet are not enough to protect your child from vaccine-targeted diseases in the long term. Aside from the disease itself, only vaccines stimulate the production of antibodies that can defend your child. However, relying on natural immunization is risky, as many diseases lead to serious complications that can cause death. Although they can cause some adverse effects, vaccines are much safer than natural immunization.
How can my pharmacist help me?
Every parent should be well-informed to make sound and informed decisions. There is a lot of information out there about vaccination, including on the internet. If you wish to learn more about this issue, be sure to consult reliable and reputable websites. When a subject is controversial, such as vaccination, it is often difficult to distinguish what is true and what is false.
The best way to develop an informed opinion is to have a discussion with a trusted healthcare professional. Pharmacists are knowledgeable about medications, including vaccinations. They can answer all your questions and help you weigh the benefits and risks associated with your decision. They can also direct you to the appropriate resources for information and where to get vaccines.
Remember that deciding not to have your child vaccinated can have serious consequences. Some diseases cannot be prevented, but others can. Immunization is a proven, accessible, preventive measure. Why not have your child reap the benefits?