Just the facts on vaccines: National Immunization Awareness Week 2024


Ensuring you are up to date with your vaccinations is the best way to pr​​otect yourself, your family and your community against serious preventable diseases.​​​


A message from Dr. Celeste Loewe, Medical Officer, Health and Wellness and Gary Housty, Executive Director, Office of the Chief Nursing Officer

​Due to an increase in anti-vaccination information on the internet, it is becoming difficult to distinguish between myth and fact when it comes to vaccines. Global vaccination coverage rates are declining, and many infectious diseases once thought to be eliminated, including measles, are reappearing.

Our goal at the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is to ensure you have the most accurate and up-to-date information on immunization so you can make the best vaccine decisions. For National Immunization Awareness Week (April 22-30), we'd like to share seven facts about vaccines that have been verified by health care professionals working at the FNHA:

Fact #1: Vaccines are safe

Vaccines are among the safest health interventions available, while serious side effects are extremely rare. Most common side effects include mild soreness around the injection site but they do not last long.

Fact #2: Vaccines are effective

In the last 50 years, immunization has saved more lives in Canada than any other health intervention. Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to protect yourself, your family and your community from preventable diseases like meningitis, measles, flu, COVID-19, mumps, rubella, HPV, chickenpox and more.

Fact #3: Vaccines are for all ages

While it's true that children receive a lot of vaccines in the early years, immunizations are needed throughout your lifespan. Even if you missed receiving a vaccine at the recommended age, you can still receive get immunized against a vaccine-preventable disease, such as measles. Vaccination provides the longest-lasting, most effective protection against disease. Ask your primary care provider what vaccines you may need.

Fact #4: It is best to follow vaccine schedules

Delaying, skipping or spacing out vaccines leaves your child unprotected against serious preventable diseases. Getting vaccinated on schedule provides the best protection against illness.

Fact #5: Everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated

Vaccination extends beyond the individual. You're doing your part to help keep your community healthy and well, especially its most vulnerable members—babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, people who cannot get vaccines for medical reasons and people who may not respond as well to immunization, such as Elders. Smaller remote First Nations communities are often at a higher risk, as diseases tend to spread more quickly where people live in close proximity to each other.

Fact #6: Vaccines are safe during pregnancy

Some vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy. However, routine vaccines that are offered to pregnant people have been studied and shown to be safe. If you are pregnant, ask your health care provider about recommended vaccines.

Fact #7: Measles is a big deal

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world and can lead to serious infection and death. In Canada, measles has been considered eliminated since 1998 due to a highly effective immunization program. However, 2024 has seen an increased number of cases in Canada, meaning it is important that we continue to maintain high vaccination rates for both children and adults.

Talk you your health care provider about recommended vaccines for your age group

Ensuring you are up to date with your vaccinations is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community against serious preventable diseases. By getting all the recommended vaccines on time, you and your loved ones are protected from many diseases—for life.

Those who received immunizations in BC and want to access their records, can find more information on ImmunizeBC.ca. If you have questions about immunization, you can talk to the community health nurse at your health centre or nursing station or with your primary care provider. You can also go to your closest public health unit (Health Unit Finder).   

Thank you for doing your part to protect your community!

Dr. Celeste Loewe, Medical Officer, Health and Wellness

Gary Housty, Executive Director, Nursing

Spread the word on social media using the hashtags: #NIAW2024 ​#VaccinesWork #GetImmunized​
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