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What is a vaccine?
What is vaccination?
What is immunization?
Why is immunization important?
How effective are vaccines?
How safe are vaccines?
Where to get immunized
When to get immunized
Thinking about getting pregnant? Children's Vaccination: What is the schedule?
When was it last updated?
Who updated it?
How do vaccines work?
Are there any vaccine side-effects?
Why is vaccinating so important? What are the ingredients / additives of vaccines?
What vaccines do adults need?
What vaccines do children need? What diseases do vaccines prevent?
What are some of the common misconceptions about vaccinating?
What would happen if we stopped immunizations?
Does your pharmacy give shots?
How do you know vaccines are genuine?
How do you know vaccines won't cause harm?
How do you know it's not a placebo?
How do you confirm genuineness?
What medical history is necessary before a vaccine is adminstered?
What follow-up is necessary to measure the effectiveness of a vaccine?
What are the various vaccines available in 2012?
How are vaccines manufactured?
How is the effectiveness of a vaccine verified?
What are the dose, age and route of administration of each vaccine?
Which vaccine is administered in left or right deltoid?
Which vaccine is administered orally?
What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a substance that primes the body’s immune system to make antibodies, T-cells and memory cells which are the body’s defense against infection. When you are vaccinated you actually build up your immune system, making you stronger and more resistant to disease as you grow. Vaccines are the best way to protect you and your family against some very serious infections.

What is vaccination?

Vaccination means having the vaccine - actually getting the injection.

What is immunization?

Immunization means both receiving the vaccine and becoming immune to ward off a disease as a result of immunization.

Like eating well and exercise, getting immunized is a foundation for a healthy life.

Immunizations help save lives, prevent serious illnesses, and are recognized as one of the most effective public health interventions. Immunizations help the body make its own protection (or antibodies) against certain diseases.

Why is immunization important?

When children are immunized, their bodies make antibodies that fight specific infections. If they are not protected and come in contact with one of these infections, they may get very sick and potentially experience complications, or even die.

How effective are vaccines?

Vaccines are very effective in preventing disease when given as recommended. However, no vaccine will work for 100 per cent of the children who receive it. Studies of disease outbreaks show that although some immunized children can develop the infection, the illness is often less severe.

How safe are vaccines?

All vaccines have to be tested to make sure they are both safe and effective. The most common side effects are mild pain, swelling and redness where the injection was given.

Some infant vaccines may cause a low-grade fever (approximately 38°C) or fussiness for a day or two after the injection. Physicians may recommend acetaminophen to prevent fever and pain. Serious side effects from immunizations are rare. Please report any side effects or severe vaccine reactions to your health care provider or local public health unit. You should always discuss the benefits and risks of any vaccine with your health care provider.

Children's Vaccination: What is the schedule?
When was it last updated?
Who updated it?

Your child should get the first shots at 2 months of age (or in some cases before leaving the hospital after birth), then at 4 months, 6 months and 12-15 months of age. Remember, each of these visits is important! Your child must complete the series to be fully protected. More immunizations are recommended at 2 years and before school entry. Adolescents also need immunizations at 11-12 years of age, before entering 7th grade.

2 months old
4 months old
6 months old
12 months old
15 months old
18 months old
4 - 6 years old
Grade 7 students
Grade 8 females
14 -16 years old (10 years after 4-6 year old booster)
Every year (in autumn)

Vaccines that protect against the following diseases are available free of charge, and are required for attendance at school (unless there is a valid written exemption) :

•Diphtheria is a very serious bacterial infection. It can cause breathing problems, heart failure, nerve damage and death in about 10% of cases.

•Tetanus (Lockjaw) causes painful muscle spasms, breathing failure and can lead to death. It is caused by bacteria and spores in the soil that can infect wounds.

•Polio can cause paralysis (loss of control over muscles in the body), inflammation of the brain and death. People get polio from drinking water or eating food with the polio virus in it. It is no longer common in Canada because of high immunization rates, but cases do occur elsewhere in the world and polio may be acquired when traveling if you are not fully immunized.

•Measles causes rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. It can cause middle ear infection, pneumonia (lung infection), inflammation of the brain, hearing loss, brain damage and death.

•Mumps causes fever, headache, painful swelling of the glands in the mouth and neck, earache and can cause inflammation of the brain. It can cause temporary or permanent deafness and swelling of the ovaries in women and testes in men, possibly leading to sterility.

•Rubella (German Measles) causes fever, rash, swelling of the neck glands and swelling and pain in the joints. It can cause bruising and bleeding. If a pregnant woman gets rubella, it can be very dangerous for the unborn baby.

Vaccines against the following diseases are recommended but not required for attendance at school. These vaccines are available free of charge :

•Pertussis (Whooping Cough) causes severe coughing spells for weeks or months. It can also cause pneumonia (lung infection), middle ear infection, convulsions (seizures), inflammation of the brain and death. The risk of complications is greatest in children younger than one year of age.

•Hepatitis B is a virus that can cause serious liver problems that can be fatal, such as liver failure and liver cancer. The vaccine is free for grade 7 students and certain high-risk groups (including infants born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis B and can pass the disease on to their babies).

•Influenza (the Flu) is a viral infection that causes cough, high fever, chills, headache and muscle pain. It can cause pneumonia (infection of the lungs), middle ear infections, heart failure and death. The danger of this infection varies from year to year depending on the strain and can be mild to life-threatening.

•Varicella (Chickenpox) is a highly contagious viral infection. It can cause fever, headache, chills, muscle or joint aches a day or two before the itchy, red rash appears. A pregnant woman with chickenpox can pass it on to her unborn baby. Mothers with chickenpox can also give it to their newborn baby after birth. Chickenpox can be very severe or even life-threatening to newborn babies.

•Meningococcal disease is a very serious bacterial infection and a common cause of meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and meningococcaemia (severe infection of the blood) that can cause severe complications and death.

•Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus transmitted through sexual activity. HPV has been found to cause cervical cancer, some other rare cancers and genital warts. (About 75 per cent of adults will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime.) The vaccine is free for grade 8 females.

Vaccines against the following diseases are recommended for younger children. These vaccines are available free of charge :

•Rotavirus is one of the leading causes of severe diarrhea in infants and children. Rotavirus is a very common and is easily spread from person to person. Rotavirus causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis). This vaccine is recommended for infants between 6 to 24 weeks of age.

•Haemophilus Influenzae type b (HIB) is a bacteria that can infect any part of the body. It can cause middle ear infections, breathing problems, damage to joints, pneumonia (lung infection), inflammation of the brain leading to brain damage and death. This vaccine is recommended for children less than 5 years of age.

•Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause serious illnesses such as pneumonia, blood infection and meningitis. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is now available free of charge in Ontario for the routine immunization of children less than 2 years old as well as high-risk children 2 to 59 months of age.

Because of changes in the influenza (flu) strains, adults also need to receive the flu shot each year.

Adults should continue to get the tetanus and diphtheria vaccine every 10 years throughout life, to be protected against these diseases.

Thinking about getting pregnant?

Be sure you are protected against rubella before pregnancy to protect your future baby from serious problems during its development.

How do vaccines work?

A vaccine contains a killed or weakened part of a germ that is responsible for infection. Because the germ has been killed or weakened before it is used to make the vaccine, it can not make the person sick. When a person receives a vaccine, the body reacts by making protective substances called "antibodies". The antibodies are the body's defenders because they help to kill off the germs that enter the body. In other words, vaccines expose people safely to germs, so that they can become protected from a disease but not come down with the disease.
    How are vaccines manufactured?
Adult Vaccines
    Do you know the facts about adult vaccines?
Signs and symptoms of flu
    What is influenza (flu)?
    What are the symptoms of the flu?

    Here are further guidelines.
Flu Vaccine
    What is it?
    What are its constituents?
    Who manufactured these Flu Shots?
    How will this help to prevent Flue?
    Have there been reports of flue after Flue Shots?
    How is flu vaccine manufactured?
    How is the effectiveness of flu vaccine measured?
    Here are further guidelines.