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Frequently Asked Questions about Immunization

General

Are any of the materials used in immunizations unsafe?

  • Certain materials – such as formaldehyde and aluminum are used to kill bacteria and therefore make vaccines as effective and safe as possible. The levels used in vaccines are lower than what a child would be exposed to on a day-to-day basis.
  • In Canada, there are very strict guidelines for making vaccines, which include many safety tests carried out by Health Canada.

Isn’t natural immunity better than immunity from an immunization?

  • No, because children who are not immunized are at risk of becoming infected with diseases before their body is able to fight it.
  • Immunizations (which are made up of parts of weak or dead viruses or bacteria) work by triggering the body’s immune system to make the proper immunity (memory) cells. Therefore, when germs enter the body at a later time, they are killed by the memory cells before they can infect the body.
  • Vaccines are far safer than getting the disease.

Why do I need to immunize my child if the diseases they are getting immunized against no longer exist in Canada anymore?

  • These diseases no longer exist in Canada because our immunization programs have protected many Canadians from certain diseases, making it very hard for the to spread, which builds a circle of protection around a whole community, and protects those who can’t by immunized (e.g., for medical reasons)

Specific Vaccines

Can the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines cause autism?

  • There is no difference in the rate of autism between immunized and unimmunized children.
  • Evidence based reviews and research studies involving millions of children have found no connection between immunization and autism.

Why is the HPV (Gardasil) vaccine recommended for my son or daughter? He/she is only 13 years old and not sexually active.

I have an older daughter and/or son. Are they eligible to receive the vaccine for free?

  • Girls who were eligible for the HPV vaccine in grade 8 and missed their immunization at school continue to be eligible for the publicly funded vaccine until the end of grade 12. Talk to your doctor or dial 311 to find out more about how to get them vaccinated.
  • Boys who are in grades 8 to 12 during the 2016-17 school year are not eligible to receive the publicly funded HPV vaccine.
  • For non-eligible children, the vaccine can be purchased privately. Speak with your doctor or nurse practitioner for more information.

Infants

Will multiple immunizations at one visit overwhelm my baby’s immune system?

  • No, multiple immunizations protect your baby against multiple diseases as early as possible.
  • We all come into contact with millions of germs a day, so exposure to antigens (made up of parts of weak or dead viruses or bacteria) in multiple immunizations are easily handled by the immunize system.

I am breastfeeding. Is that enough to protect my child?

  • Breastfeeding gives babies a great start, but it will not protect your child against all of the specific diseases that can be prevented through immunization.

If my child it teething, or has a cold, is it safe to get all their shots?

  • Yes, your child’s immune system works so well that they can get all their shots, even if they are teething, have a fever, diarrhea, ear infection, or are taking antibiotics.

School attendance

Are you going to suspend my child?

  • Halton Region Health Department will make every effort to avoid suspending students.
  • The Health Department is:
    • working collaboratively with its School Board partners.
    • offering clinics in every municipality in Halton Region to assist students in receiving their required immunizations.
    • working with students and families to help the receive their immunizations and/or find their immunization records or obtain a valid exemption form.
  • However, Halton Region is required to enforce the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA) on behalf of the province. ISPA applies to Public, Catholic, Private, and French Language School Boards.

I gave my child’s immunization records to the school when he/she registered. Why is the Health Department asking for it again?

  • The school collects and forwards immunization records to Halton Public Health only at the time of initial registration. After registration, parents are responsible for updating their child’s immunization records with the Health Department every time the child is vaccinated.
  • As your child gets older, there are additional immunizations and doses of vaccine required for them to be completely immunized for their age.

I think my child has received all his immunizations at the doctor’s office, but I can’t remember. What should I do?

  • Check with your health care provider to make sure your child has had all the vaccines needed to attend school.
  • Don’t forget to report all of these immunizations to the Health Department. You doctor’s office does not do this for you.