It’s National Immunization Awareness Week from April 25 to May 2, 2015.
Immunizations have been in the news in the past couple of years because of measle outbreaks, which have been aided by some parents not trusting the vaccines and refusing to have their children immunized.
It might in fact be due to very successful immunization programs in the past that keeps immunization rates at a steady 71 per cent for children by age two in the Interior Health Region.
“Many of today’s parents have not seen vaccine preventable diseases in their lifetimes; thanks to very successful immunization programs, so they don’t realize how dangerous these diseases can be,” said Dr. Althea Hayden, Public Health Physician with Interior Health. “Measles and chickenpox viruses can lead to serious complications like pneumonia and encephalitis (brain swelling). Pertussis (whooping cough) can cause seizures and brain damage in babies and mumps infection can result in deafness.”
Health experts would rather see immunization rates in the 90 per cent range to ensure vulnerable people in the community are protected.
One of the messages public health nurses at the Kimberley Health Centre would like to get out during this awareness week is that adults need some of their childhood vaccinations boosted.
“Immunizations have saved more lives in Canada in the last 50 years than any other health measure,” said Nurse Amy Blerot. “In celebration of the NIAW this year, the public health nurses at the Kimberley Health Centre would like to offer two drop-in clinics for anyone requiring their Tetanus/Diphtheria (Td) booster vaccination.”
Diphtheria is a serious infection of the nose and throat caused by diphtheria bacteria, explains Blerot. The bacteria are spread through the air by people sneezing or coughing or by direct skin-to-skin contact. The disease can result in very severe breathing problems. It can also cause heart failure and paralysis. About 1 in 10 people who get diphtheria will die.
These diseases are now rare in British Columbia because of routine childhood immunization programs; however adults who were immunized against tetanus and diphtheria when they were younger should receive a booster dose of Td vaccine every 10 years.
Tetanus, also known as lock jaw, is caused by bacteria mostly found in the soil. When the bacteria enter the skin through a cut or scrape, they produce a poison that can cause painful tightening of the muscles all over the body. It is very serious if the breathing muscles are affected. Up to one in five people who get tetanus may die.
You can get a free booster for Td at the Kimberley Health Centre during two clinics next week. Monday, May 4th 2015 from 1:30- 3:30 p.m. and Friday, May 8th, 2015 from 9:30- 11:30 a.m. No appointment is necessary for either clinic.