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Childhood Vaccines & Immunization

Vaccinating your children is the best way to keep them safe from many serious and potentially deadly diseases. You can help protect your children by keeping them fully vaccinated.

Key Points:

  • Vaccines are vital for growth and development.
  • Vaccines are a safe way to prevent serious infections.    
  • When you receive a vaccine, your body produces antibodies that help your immune system identify and eliminate the targeted virus.    
  • Most vaccines are administered by injection, while some vaccines can be given orally. Keep your child's immunization record in a safe place as it is an important document.   Sharing your child's immunization records is necessary in various situations:  
  • Starting daycare or kindergarten.  
    • Transferring schools or relocating.  
    • Attending post-secondary education.  
    • Participating in summer camps or starting a new job or placement.
    • Traveling to another country where specific diseases are prevalent.  
  • Some vaccines protect against only one virus or bacterium, while combination vaccines protect against several diseases at the same time. Combination vaccines are helpful as they mean fewer injections and fewer appointments.  
  • While certain vaccines offer life-long protection, others require booster doses to continue providing protection:    
    • Children may need multiple doses of a vaccine for optimal protection. For example, DTaP-IPV-Hib (Pediacel) is a combination vaccine which is generally given as 4 doses during the first 2 years of life.  
  • Remember, staying up to date with immunization and maintaining accurate records contribute to safeguarding your health and ensuring the well-being of your child. 

What are the risks when parents/guardians choose not to vaccinate:   

Parents/guardians are responsible for their child’s health and well-being, including protecting them from vaccine-preventable diseases.    

The Canadian Paediatric Society urges all children to receive routine vaccinations, an annual influenza (flu) vaccine, and be up to date with COVID 19 vaccination, unless there is a medical reason not to.  

The diseases prevented by infant and childhood vaccines can be serious and even deadly.

  • For example:  
    • Measles can spread to the brain, resulting in brain damage and death.
    • Mumps can lead to permanent deafness.  
    • Polio can cause paralysis.    

Sadly, these diseases have not disappeared, and any child can be exposed to these infections. There is no treatment and no cure for diseases like measles, polio and tetanus. The most effective way to protect your child from these diseases is through vaccination. 

How does vaccination work?

Vaccines contain killed, weakened or synthetic versions of disease-causing germs, known as antigens. When a person receives a vaccine, their body develops antibodies and develops a “memory” of how to defeat that specific virus. Later, if the body is exposed to the same germ (or same virus), the immune system will recognize it and respond quickly to fight it off.  

Most vaccines are highly effective in preventing diseases; however, no vaccine is 100% effective.  If you do get a disease after being immunized, the vaccine will make it less likely that you become seriously ill.    

Children may need multiple doses of a vaccine for optimal protection. For example, DTaP-IPV-Hib (Pediacel) is a combination vaccine which is generally given as 4 doses during the first 2 years of life.     

Are there common side effects? Most children tolerate vaccines well.

  • In some cases, your child may:  
    • be fussy,  
    • have a mild fever,  
    • be sleepier than usual,  
    • have pain,
    • swelling or redness where the injection was given.  

These reactions are normal, as their bodies are working to develop an immune response.  These mild side effects usually go away within a few days. You can give your child medication to help with the pain or to lower a fever. Check with your child's health care provider if you need advice about which medication to use. 

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines used in Canada are safe and effective. They are developed to meet the highest standards and are continually monitored for safety and effectiveness.  On average, it takes about 10 years of research and development before a vaccine is considered for approval by Health Canada.  Visit to view a video on vaccine safety in Canada.   

Is it safe to receive more than one vaccine at a time?

Yes, it is safe for your child’s immune system to handle multiple vaccines at onceReceiving multiple vaccines is safe and ensures the best protection for your child at the earliest age possible. 

Where do I get my child vaccinated?

Vaccines are administered by your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, you can contact your local Porcupine Health Unit office to schedule an appointment.  

  • What to expect at your child’s vaccination appointment.
    • You can help your child have a positive vaccine experience. It will be easier if you know what to expect.

Before the appointment:

  • Plan ahead:
    • Consider bringing something to keep your child's mind off the vaccination, such as a game, book, music or video.
    • If you or your child have fears or anxiety about vaccination, reach out to your health care provider before the appointment for options that might help.
  • If you have a personal vaccination record for your child, bring it with you to your appointment. If you don't have one, ask for one at your appointment. 

During the appointment:

Your child's health care provider may ask you a few questions about your child's health before vaccinating them. This is a great time to ask any questions you have about vaccines. If your child has had negative vaccination experiences, anxiety, or a serious reaction to a previous vaccination, be sure to tell the health care provider.  

For a more comfortable vaccination experience, try the following strategies:

  • Comfort your child by holding and talking to them during the vaccination
  • If you are nursing, try feeding your baby or child right before, during or after the vaccination. This will help to comfort them.  
  • Be calm. Your child may react to your emotions. When you are calm and positive, they'll be more at ease.  
  • Distract. Your soothing voice or touch can help comfort your child, as can a favourite toy, story or song.  

For more information about the vaccines you may need, contact us, your health care provider or visit the Health Canada website.