We think to check up on kids’ records all the time, but as an adult, when is the last time you checked with your healthcare provider about whether or not you are up to date? It's National Immunization Awareness Week - a great time to do some detective work and find out! Even if you completed all of your childhood vaccines on schedule, there are plenty of reasons you may be due for immunizations now. For example:
Your current age makes you eligible for certain vaccines
Some vaccines are available only in a specific age window. For example, age 65 to 70 is a key time for Ontarians to get free vaccines for pneumonia and shingles. For adults of other ages, you might be eligible for other immunizations based on your birth year—meningitis and measles immunizations are good examples of that. Many adults only received one measles dose, and two doses are needed for lifetime protection.
Also remember, everyone should have a tetanus-diptheria booster (Td) every ten years as an adult. Take a peek at your record and contact your healthcare provider or our immunization clinic to book an appointment!
You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
Many types of vaccines are safe and recommended to receive in pregnancy, to protect both mother and baby. Some preventable illnesses can be transferred to the baby during pregnancy, or shortly after birth. Tetanus-diptheria-pertussis (Tdap) protects the baby during pregnancy and during its first few months of life. The flu shot is important to protect both baby after birth and mum during pregnancy, as mum is at risk for increased dangerous complications from contracting the flu during pregnancy.
You have an infant or young child in your life
Protect yourself and the little ones you love! Little ones who have not yet been able to complete their vaccinations are very vulnerable to vaccine-preventable illnesses. If you are vaccinated, then you cannot pass these illnesses on to them. Your vaccinations also protect members of your household and the community who have decreased immune systems.
You have certain medical conditions
Especially if you have a condition that compromises your immune system, you may need additional free vaccine protections. What is available is very individual, based on your specific health conditions. Contact your healthcare practitioner or the Vaccine Preventable Disease staff here at TBDHU for tailored advice.
You have certain risks resulting from your hobbies or type of work
Do you do gardening, carpentry, or construction? If so, make sure your tetanus is up to date! Jobs working in healthcare or sewage might put you at additional risk for vaccine-preventable diseases, like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, or Measles. Be safe, be immunized!
You are traveling
There are different recommendations for different countries which can be shared by a doctor or a nurse practitioner. TBDHU and Janzens both have travel clinics in Thunder Bay, where you can receive travel advice and vaccinations tailored to your specific travel experience. Make sure to book early! You can also check out the website travel.gc.ca for the government of Canada’s suggestions for travel health and safety. There is vaccine information here too.
Immunizations are one of the best health interventions we have in Canada, and are a great way to protect your health, the health of those you love, and the health of our community. Preventing disease prevents a lot of suffering and heartache, and is also very cost effective! The Canadian Immunization Guide states that “Vaccines are a cornerstone of public health”. Because of the success of vaccination programs in this country and internationally, rates for vaccine-preventable illnesses have dropped dramatically. Smallpox has even been eradicated globally, thanks to vaccines! Frontline staff like myself who provide immunizations are really passionate about the work we do, and believe in the importance of it. We are happy to share our knowledge and help you to get the service you need.
If you have more questions about vaccines or your specific immunization record, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the Vaccine Preventable Disease program here at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. We are here to serve our community during National Immunization Awareness Week, and all year long!