April 27, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - New Brunswick is observing National Immunization Awareness Week, April 24 to May 1. The theme this year is Immunization Saves Lives.
In New Brunswick, routine immunization starts at birth and continues through all stages of life.
It is important that children receive all doses of the recommended vaccines on time to make sure they are fully protected.
Infants are particularly vulnerable to many diseases that vaccines prevent since they have not yet developed immunity to the bacteria and viruses. Immunization triggers their immune systems to be prepared to protect them from serious diseases.
"Immunization is the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases," said Dr. Paul Van Buynder, deputy chief medical officer of health. "When vaccine coverage drops, vaccine-preventable diseases can be readily transmitted in settings such as schools and daycare centres. I encourage all New Brunswickers, not just those who are parents of small children, to learn more about how to protect themselves against these diseases."
Although current activity of disease may be low, there is always a risk of serious diseases returning to the province. Outbreaks of serious disease have recently occurred in other Canadian jurisdictions, some of which followed major international gatherings.
Although receiving immunizations during childhood is critical, some vaccines do not provide lifelong protection, so booster shots are required. Adults who were not adequately immunized as children may be at risk of infection.
"Not only are under-immunized adults at risk of contracting diseases themselves, they can also infect others," Van Buynder said. "For example, adults who contract whooping cough can infect small infants, who are too young to be fully immunized, with extremely serious outcomes."
More information about immunizations in New Brunswick is at www.gnb.ca/health. Information about National Immunization Awareness Week is online.
MEDIA CONTACT: Danielle Phillips, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-3821.