Vaccinations can help to prevent disease, both individually and amongst groups of people. Since the introduction of vaccination programs, diseases such as polio and small pox have become rare. Even though some of the diseases that women and children are given vaccines for are now rarely seen in Canada, it is still important to continue to vaccinate.
Vaccines contain antigens. Antigens are weakened/dead forms of bacteria or molecules that cause diseases. They are harmless and will not cause illness . When they are injected into the human body, the body produces antibodies to fight against them. These help your immune system to fight diseases if you need to in the future. Sometimes vaccines have to be given more than once to ensure enough antibodies are made.
Young children in Canada receive the following vaccines:
- 2 months and 4 months: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus.
- 6 months: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib, flu
- 12 months: meningococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, pneumococcal disease, chicken pox
- 18 months: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox
During pregnancy, certain vaccines are given to reduce the risk of baby acquiring disease during and after birth. Women can use the preconception and prenatal clinic visits to ask questions about the recommended immunization before, during pregnancy and breastfeeding.