Fewer people in the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region are being vaccinated compared to the rest of the province.
Medical Health Officer Dr. Khami Chokani said overall immunization rates in the province sit at around 91 per cent while the local health region rests closer to 88 per cent.
“Take measles for example. The provincial average is 75 percent but as a health region, we are at around 60 per cent,” Chokani said.
Vaccinations are generally considered the most successful public health intervention ever devised. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that vaccines prevent more than two million deaths worldwide every year. But Chokani said ‘vaccine hesitancy’ has been created by theory-based information that leads to myths surrounding the risk of immunizations. He said some parents are reluctant to immunize their children, or may delay or refuse them altogether because of this.
“What people have to understand is that vaccines are rigorously tested for their safety and effectiveness. Yes, some people have a reaction…but most people don’t,” he said.
According to the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute, a number of recent measles outbreaks in Canada were linked to a decrease in the number of children receiving vaccinations. The measles virus is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 per cent of the people near that person, who are not immune, will also become infected.
April 22 – 29 is National Immunization Week. Canadian children are immunized free of charge against 13 preventable diseases like tetanus, whooping cough and measles. Before a child is two years old, he or she should have had five immunization appointments. Chokani encouraged women to ensure their vaccinations are up to date before becoming pregnant.
“[A] baby is not able to produce any sort of immunization and is reliant upon mommy’s immunization up until the age of 18 months,” Chokani said.
Saskatchewan’s recommended immunization schedule can be found here.
On Twitter: @TeenaMonteleone
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