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Immunization

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Immunizations for Children  

Vaccines are an important part of healthy growth and development. Think of them the same way you would healthy eating, physical activity, or proper sleep.

Vaccines are a proven and safe way to prevent serious infections. Although we rarely see most of these diseases in Canada now, they still exist. If we stop vaccinating children, these diseases will return. Vaccines sometimes even prevent death.

Vaccines help your body to help itself. Your body will make antibodies when you get a vaccine. Antibodies help your immune system to identify and destroy a virus. This will protect your child and those around them.

Most vaccines are given by injection. Some are given orally (in the mouth). New types of vaccines, such as nasal sprays and skin patches, make them less painful for some patients.

What vaccines does my child (4 to 11 years) need?

Your child will be offered two important vaccines between the ages of 4 and 6 years:

These vaccines are not given in schools. You will need to get them from your healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can get them from a walk-in clinic.

Report all your youth's vaccinations to Ottawa Public Health. Ottawa Public Health keeps a record of your child's vaccinations to help protect public safety. This is important if there is ever a disease outbreak.

See the full Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule (PDF).

Learn more about the Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), and Polio (4-in-1 vaccine) (PDF).

Learn more about the Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella (Chicken Pox) (4-in-1 vaccine).

Your child's immunization record

Keep a record of your child's immunization. Your child's doctor will give you a record of all your child's vaccinations. Update their little yellow book each time your child gets a vaccination.  

This record is important. Keep it in a safe place with other documents, like birth certificates and passports. 

You may need your immunization record for:

  • Traveling to countries where the diseases are common
  • Going for emergency health care
  • Going to summer camp
  • Transferring to a new school in another area
  • Starting daycare or kindergarten

Report all your child's vaccinations to Ottawa Public Health. This includes those given by your healthcare provider. Ottawa Public Health keeps a record of your child's vaccinations to help protect public safety. This is important if there is ever a disease outbreak.

Ontario's Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule

Ontario's Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule informs parents what vaccines your child's needs. It also lets parents know when their child should get their vaccines. "Publicly funded" means that there is no cost for your child to get these vaccines. They are funded to help protect public safety.

It is now law that all students need to either have a proof of vaccination or an exemption for the following diseases for school entry:

Your child will meet this need if you follow the Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule (PDF). This is required by the Immunization of School Pupils Act

See the full Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule.

 

Helpful tips to reduce pain during vaccination

Needles can be scary (and not just for parents). Here are some helpful ways to help reduce pain for your child when they get their vaccine.

Prepare your child ahead of time

  • Read stories about what happens when you visit the doctor.
  • Offer an honest explanation about what to expect.  Prepare young children (under 4 years of age) just before the injection. Prepare older children the day before.
  • Describe how vaccination will feel (for example, like a pinch).
  • Tell your child what they can do to ease the pain (for example, sit still, breathe deeply, relax the arm).
  • Draw your child's attention away from the needle. This is one of the best ways that you can help your child. 
  • Distract your child with a favourite toy or blanket, a book, music, singing, or telling a joke or a story.

Distract your child

  • Draw your child's attention away from the needle. This is one of the best ways that you can help your child. 
  • Distract your child with a favourite toy or blanket, a book, music, singing, or telling a joke or a story.
  • Tell your child to take a deep breath and to blow it out slowly. Blowing bubbles or blowing on a pinwheel can help also. 

Position your child in an upright position

Hold your young child securely in a comforting hug, sitting upright on your lap, facing forward, or facing you (front to front), with the arm exposed.  Lying flat on their back during an injection, or being held too tightly, can be scary for children and can increase their fear. Older children can sit alone if they wish, with the arm exposed.

If your child continues to move, ask your healthcare provider about the proper hold technique that is safest for your child.

Deciding not to immunize a child
You are encouraged to speak with a Public Health Nurse (PHN) to discuss how best to protect your child from vaccine preventable diseases. For any questions you may have related to vaccines or the exemption process, please call Ottawa Public Health (OPH) at 613-580-6744 to speak with a PHN. Visit Ottawa Public Health for more information. 
Stay in the know. Learn more about the diseases that you can prevent through vaccines. Vaccines for children (4 to 11 years) protect against: 
Diphtheria

Diphtheria is a serious disease of the nose, throat and skin.

Diphtheria can cause:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • swollen glands
  • difficulty breathing
  • heart failure
  • paralysis
  • death

Complications include breathing problems, heart failure and nerve damage. Diphtheria kills about 1 of every 10 people who get the disease. It is most often passed to others through coughing and sneezing.

Prevent diphtheria by getting the vaccine.

Learn more about the Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccine (PDF).

Tetanus

Tetanus is a serious disease. The germs make spores that live in soil and dust. You may get the disease if dirt with the tetanus germ gets into a cut in the skin. Tetanus germs are found everywhere, usually in soil, dust and manure. Tetanus does not spread from person to person.

Tetanus causes cramping of the muscles in the neck, arms, legs and stomach. It may also cause painful convulsions which may be severe enough to break bones. Even with early treatment, tetanus kills 2 out of every 10 people who get it.

Getting your tetanus vaccine is the only way to prevent the disease.

Learn more about the Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccine (PDF).

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is a common disease. The infection causes prolonged coughs in youth and adults. Pertussis is most serious for babies. This cough can cause a person to vomit or young babies may even stop breathing for a short period of time. The cough can last for weeks. It can be hard to eat, drink or even breathe.

Pertussis can cause other serious problems such as:

  • pneumonia
  • brain damage
  • seizures

Pertussis spreads from an infected person to others through coughing or sneezing. Adults are the main source for pertussis infection in babies and young children. Infected adults and youth can pass on the disease to infants who have not yet had their immunization vaccines. These infants will not be fully protected. They are at greater risk of serious problems.

Prevent pertussis by getting the pertussis vaccine.

Learn more about the Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccine (PDF).

Polio

Polio is a dangerous disease that people can get from drinking water or eating food contaminated with the polio germ. It is also spread from person to person. This disease can cause nerve damage and can paralyze a person for life.

It can paralyze muscles used for breathing, talking, eating and walking. It can also cause death. Although polio has been eradicated in the Americas, there is still a risk of catching this disease through travel or from cases coming from abroad.

There is no cure for polio, only treatment. Prevent polio by getting your vaccine.

Learn more about the Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Polio (Tdap-IPV) vaccine (PDF).

Measles

Measles can be a serious infection. It causes:

  • high fever
  • cough
  • rash
  • runny nose
  • watery eyes

Measles lasts for 1 to 2 weeks. 1 out of every 10 children who has measles develops ear infections or pneumonia (lung infection). About 1 out of every 1,000 children with measles develops encephalitis, an infection of the brain. This may cause brain damage and developmental delays. Measles can also make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage or give birth prematurely.

Measles is very contagious. It spreads from person to person easily and quickly. People can get measles from an infected person through coughing or sneezing around them or simply talking to them. It is contagious 4 days after the onset of rash and up to 4 days after.

Prevent the spread of measles through getting the vaccine. People who contract measles will need to be isolated to control the spread.

Learn more about the Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella (MMRV) vaccine.

Mumps

Mumps is a virus that causes:

  • fever
  • headache
  • painful swelling of the cheek, jaw and neck

It usually happens in children between 5 and 9 years of age, but can also affect very young children. It can develop into encephalitis, an infection of the brain. Mumps meningitis does not usually cause permanent damage. Recently, there have been disease outbreaks among teens and young adults.

Mumps can cause:

  • Painful, swollen testicles in about 1 out of 4 teenage boys or adult men
  • Painful infection of the ovaries in 1 of 20 women
  • Increased risk of miscarriage during the first 3 months of pregnancy
  • Deafness in some people

People can get mumps from an infected person coughing or sneezing around them or simply talking to them. It can also spread through contact with the saliva of an infected person.

Prevent mumps by getting the vaccine.

Learn more about the Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella (MMRV) vaccine.

Rubella

Rubella is usually a mild illness in children. Up to half of the infections with rubella occur without a rash.

Rubella may cause:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • rash on the face and neck
  • temporary aches and pains and swelling of the joints (common in youth and adults, especially females)
  • temporary blood clotting
  • encephalitis, an infection of the brain

Rubella can be followed by chronic arthritis (inflamed joints).

Rubella is most dangerous for pregnant women. If a woman gets rubella in the early part of a pregnancy, it is likely that her baby will develop congenital rubella syndrome. Her baby can be severely disabled or die.

Rubella spreads by contact with an infected person through coughing, sneezing or talking to them. It can also be spread by contact with the saliva of infected people.

Prevent rubella by getting the vaccine.

Learn more about the Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella (MMRV) vaccine.

Varicella (Chicken Pox)

Chickenpox/varicella is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Many parents will have had chickenpox. You may know it as a red rash with blister. The chickenpox vaccine is now provided to all children as part of the routine immunization schedule. It is required to attend school for children born in 2010 or later.

Children with chickenpox may have:

  • fatigue
  • a headache
  • fever up to 39°C
  • chills
  • muscle or joint aches (a day or two before the red rash begins)
  • raised itchy red blisters that can be anywhere on the body

Blisters dry up and form scabs in 4 to 5 days. Complications of chickenpox can include:

  • skin, ear and spinal cord infections
  • pneumonia
  • encephalitis, an infection of the brain

This risk of complications increases with age.

Chickenpox spreads easily from person to person. It is passed from an infected person to others through coughing, sneezing and even talking. You can also get chickenpox if you touch a blister or the liquid from a blister.

Prevent chickenpox by getting the vaccine.

Learn more about the Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella (MMRV) vaccine.

Do you have more questions?