A parent’s guide to routine vaccines

by | May 7, 2023 | Health and Wellness

A major part of parenthood is navigating all the information that helps you make important decisions about your child’s life, including about their health care.

There’s lots of misinformation about childhood vaccinations out there, so here’s some information sourced from the Public Health Agency of Canada to give you the scoop.

Why routine vaccines?
Many diseases, such as measles, tetanus, polio, meningitis and whooping cough, can be severe. Even infections like mumps and chickenpox can sometimes be severe. Some can result in long-term complications or even death. However, there are vaccines for these conditions.

Vaccines work by helping children from ever getting the disease, and/or reducing their chances of getting very sick if they do get the infection. Most help to reduce the spread of these infections.

Because most people in Canada are vaccinated, and therefore protected against those infections, the chances of catching or getting very sick from them is now quite rare. However, the risk is still high in countries where vaccination rates are not as high as in Canada, posing a risk for those who are unvaccinated travelling abroad.

What ages are vaccines given at?
For best protection, public health authorities recommend children and adults get vaccinated at various times throughout their life. If vaccinated on time, children have the best protection as soon as possible.

Some vaccines are given once, while many others require several doses over months or years. Vaccination schedules can vary somewhat depending on the province or territory, but typically, children will be vaccinated at the following ages:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Six months
  • 12 months
  • 18 months
  • Between the ages of four and six years

Some provinces or territories also suggest a vaccine at birth and some territories offer vaccine doses at one and/or nine months of age. Later, routine vaccinations are also recommended for school-age children and they may be offered at school-based clinics.

The vaccine approval process is rigorous
Before they are approved, vaccines go through a rigorous process, including years of research and testing. When a vaccine is being considered for use in Canada, Health Canada reviews how well it works and its safety before approving it for use. Once a vaccine has been approved, the Public Health Agency continues to monitor its safety and effectiveness, in cooperation with other countries and international agencies.

Tips for a vaccine appointment
When you go for a vaccine with a child, do your best to relax. Your child may react to your emotions. When you are calm and positive, they’ll be more at ease.

You can also try to talk softly and hold your child during the vaccination to comfort and distract them. Nursing right before, during or after vaccination can be comforting to babies and telling a story or bringing a toy can help toddlers.

For more information about vaccines, vaccine-preventable diseases and the recommended vaccination schedule where you live, speak with a health-care provider, or find out more at canada.ca/childhood-vaccines

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