Vancouver - National Immunization Awareness Week (April 25 - May 2) kicks off tomorrow to celebrate the important role vaccines play in preserving and protecting public health.
Being fully up-to-date with all your shots is the best way to safeguard yourself, and also helps protect those around you.
Last year BC saw the largest measles outbreak in three decades in the Fraser Valley with more than 400 confirmed cases. This, along with other recent cases of mumps and whooping cough in BC, are a reminder that maintaining high immunization rates are essential to ensure that vaccine-preventable diseases don’t come back.
The majority of children under two are protected against 15 vaccine-preventable diseases; however, misinformation, complacency and fear have resulted in some parents choosing to skip certain vaccines for their children or avoid immunizations all together.
“Misinformation about vaccines can spread quickly, not unlike the diseases they prevent,” says Dr. Monika Naus, Director of Immunization at the BC Centre for Disease Control. “It is important that we provide the most accurate information possible so that people can make an informed and educated decision when it comes to vaccinating themselves or their children.”
BC has been on the forefront in this area with two interactive platforms designed to educate British Columbians about the importance of immunization and motivate them to take action to get vaccinated. ImmunizeBC.ca provides the most accurate, up-to-date and fact-based information about vaccines for the public. The site includes several interactive features including a child vaccination calendar, health unit finder as well as an online ‘Chat with a Nurse’ option to answer questions from the public.
I Boost Immunity is an online advocacy network designed to encourage the majority of British Columbians who support immunization to speak up for ‘community immunity’ by sharing evidence-based vaccine information with their peers using social media. Immunization advocates (‘Boosters’) are rewarded for their efforts with points that can be redeemed for prizes.
For National Immunization Awareness Week, I Boost Immunity is going one step further. For every 1,000 points earned by the Booster network during the week, the site will donate funds to vaccinate one child against measles in the developing world through Shot@Life, a United Nations Foundation NGO.
“We believe in this approach because it empowers people who support immunization to act locally and globally simultaneously to make a positive difference in the world,” says Michael Barnes, Executive Director of the Public Health Association of BC. “As recent measles importations to Canada have demonstrated, protection against these diseases is not just a BC issue; we are part of a global community and these infections are just a plane ride away.”
The current BC immunization schedule includes vaccines that protect against 15 infectious diseases: diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, Haemophilus influenzae b, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease, pneumococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, rotavirus and influenza.
For more information or to arrange an interview:
BC Centre for Disease Control
604-707-2412 or pager: 604-871-5699