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Waiting for a COVID vaccine for your kids? In the meantime, make sure their regular immunizations are up-to-date. Throughout the pandemic, many childhood vaccinations have been forgotten or postponed. Experts at McMaster Children’s Hospital remind parents to make sure their child’s vaccines are up to date.
November 12, 2021

The other side of COVID-19: “Get your shot” applies to kids’ regular vaccines too!

Throughout the pandemic, many childhood vaccinations have been forgotten or postponed. View our fact sheet.

It’s not just COVID-19 vaccines that are important to the health and safety of our community. Regular, routine childhood vaccinations are crucial to ensure preventable diseases do not return and cause epidemics of their own.

While there has been significant discussion around the COVID-19 vaccine, experts at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) remind parents to check their child’s immunization status to ensure they are up to date on routine vaccines such as tetanus, chicken pox, and hepatitis.

“Vaccines prevent serious illnesses – including many that are easily spread in schools and daycare centres. For more than 200 years vaccines have been saving lives around the world.” https://www.ontario.ca/page/vaccines

Life has had its fair share of disruptions lately…so here’s a friendly reminder

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted routines and timelines, so regular healthcare needs like check-up appointments and routine vaccinations often given to children at school or their doctor’s office may have been forgotten or postponed.

Doctor Jeff Pernica, glasses, curly brown hair, colourful plaid button down shirt

Dr. Jeff Pernica

“It’s important to receive routine childhood vaccinations to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases that can cause significant illness, hospitalization, spread, and even death,” says Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, pediatric infectious diseases doctor at MCH. “If not enough children in the community get routine vaccines, we may see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases among kids, elderly people, or adults.”

Routine vaccinations for children are free. Talk to your family doctor or Public Health unit about what vaccines your child needs.

Required vaccinations for children to go to school

Selfie of doctor Martha Fulford inside her office. Brown hair pulled back, dark glasses

Dr. Martha Fulford

“Along with getting lunch bags and school supplies ready, back to school season is a good time to think about routine vaccinations,” says Dr. Martha Fulford, infectious diseases doctor at MCH. In Ontario, mandatory vaccines to go to school include:

• Diphtheria
• Tetanus
• Polio
• Measles
• Mumps
• Rubella
• Meningococcus
• Pertussis (whooping cough)
• Varicella (chickenpox)

When children are 18 months old, they should receive a booster for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and haemophilus influenza b. At age four to six, they should receive a booster for measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.

Around grade seven, young people receive vaccines for hepatitis B, meningococcus, and human papillomavirus (HPV).

“Teenage vaccines like Hepatitis B and HPV are important to be given at school-ages, prior to specific risky behaviours which can result in lifelong chronic diseases,” says Fulford.

Finally, as teens attend high school, they should receive their tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster.

We’re all playing catch-up

If your child is behind, there are easily available catch-up schedules to get their vaccination status back up to date.

Routine vaccines can be given at your family doctor’s office or school clinics offered by Public Health.

Resources

Ontario’s routine immunization schedule
Vaccines for children & youth
A parent’s guide to vaccination
Immunize Canada
Canadian Immunization Guide
Ontario Ministry of Health
Hamilton Public Health

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