Catch Up on Your / Your Children's Vaccinations!
A message from Dr. Celeste Loewe, Medical Officer, Office of the Chief Medical Officer; & Marion Guenther, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Immunizations, Office of the Chief Nursing Officer
National Immunization Awareness Week is an annual public health event held the last week of April to raise awareness of the critical importance of immunization. This year, the theme is “Let's catch up with confidence," with a focus on getting or staying up to date with routine and recommended immunizations. This is the best way to protect yourself, your children, and your community against harmful diseases and to stay healthy.
If you and your children are up to date with your vaccinations, you are protected from the risk of serious illness due to communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles, polio, and whooping cough (pertussis). If you're not sure, you can check with your community health nurse or other care provider and review Immunize BC's recommended vaccines schedule together to determine which vaccinations you and your children may need to get.
As many people stayed home more from 2020 to 2022 to avoid COVID-19, fewer kept up to date on routine immunizations. In 2023, now that we're living in a “new normal" – with COVID-19 transitioning to an endemic state, similar to influenza (the flu) – we can “catch up" on things. This includes catching up with friends and family, catching up on the activities we may have missed (like group sports), and catching up on the vaccines we missed. We want everyone to be able to catch up with confidence, and know they are safe and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases!
Having your children vaccinated on time is important and helps ensure they get the protection they need as early as possible. In Canada, vaccines have saved more lives than any other medical intervention in the past 50 years. Before vaccines, many Canadians died or were disabled by vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines can also help protect against cancers caused by certain sexually transmitted infections.
Because vaccination rates have declined over the past few years, there is currently a higher risk of vaccine-preventable infections, and outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases (pertussis, measles, meningitis, polio, and others) are on the increase around the world, including in Canada.
First Nations communities are at higher risk, as diseases tend to spread more quickly in small communities where people gather together. Children, teenagers, adults, and Elders all need vaccines! Getting vaccinated protects your whole community, including those who will not or cannot be vaccinated.
Now is a good time to talk to your health care provider about vaccines you or your family may need. Vaccines are safe, and they work!
Access to vaccines and vaccine records
If you want to access your vaccine records, find out if you are missing any vaccines, or get vaccinated:
You can access your records by registering for the province's Health Gateway, an online web portal that provides a single place for BC residents to access their health records.
If you're living in community: You can make an appointment with your community health nurse at your community health centre or nursing station.
If you're living in a city or away from your community: You can use ImmunizeBC.ca to find a public health unit in your area.
If you would like more information about which vaccines are right for you or if you have other immunization questions, talk to your community health nurse or other health care provider.
We can do this, together! Let's catch up with confidence!