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Immunization important for children and adults to provide lifelong immunity

Some adults may not realize they need a booster vaccine to provide immunity against many diseases.

Organizations such as the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion spent National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada, April 23-30, trying to encourage adults to ensure their vaccines are up to date.

Donna Craigon, VIHA public health nurse, said parents often place priority on their children sometimes forget about themselves.

“Some people think when they are out of high school they are done with it,” said Craigon. “Sometimes they are surprised because they thought everything was good.”

Craigon said flu clinics are generally well attended every year, but there are also other vaccines people need to keep up to date – a booster is recommended every 10 years for tetanus and diphtheria.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, CCIAP chairwoman, said tetanus, a bacteria, lives in the soil and people can get exposed to it doing things like gardening or construction on their home.

Adults also need a booster for measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). Craigon said in the mid-90s, scientists discovered that people needed a second booster to protect against the three diseases.

People who have never had chickenpox, which can be verified with a blood test from their doctor, and are over the age of 13, should also receive a vaccine. And people over the age of 65 should receive a pneumococcal vaccine that protects against 23 different strains of pneumonia.

It’s important to keep up to date with immunizations because it protects the person and people around them who may have compromised immune systems and don’t respond as well to the vaccines, Craigon said.

“We have the luxury in Canada of not seeing these diseases anymore because we have such good immunization programs,” said Henry. “We forget how severe and how sick those diseases can make us.”

She said there has been misinformation about vaccines published linking it to autism, which isn’t true, and most people only have mild reactions to vaccines, such as a sore arm.

Craigon said preventative medicine is always good and recommends people have a conversation with their health care provider to ensure their immunizations are up to date. And adults should keep their own records.

People can receive immunizations at the Nanaimo Health Clinic Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and Monday from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Appointments are required and can be made by calling 250-755-3345 or people can stop by the clinic, located at 1665 Grant Ave., to book an appointment.

There is also a travel clinic for people heading out of country who need immunizations. People can call 1-866-533-3391 for times and fees associated with the service.

People can find more immunization information www.viha.ca or www.immunize.ca.

reporter3@nanaimobulletin.com

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