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NEWS RELEASE · 23rd April 2010
BC Centre for Disease Control
Adults urged to check if they are up to date with vaccinations National Immunization Awareness Week, April 24 - May 1

Vaccines are not just for kids! National Immunization Awareness Week kicks off tomorrow (April 24) and adults are being encouraged to take the time to make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations.

"Last year, the Province provided over $40 million towards publicly funded immunization programs that can protect all British Columbians from 14 separate diseases," says Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Ida Chong. "When it comes to protecting your health, getting immunized is as important as having safe water, as vaccines have been proven to both prolong and save lives."

One hundred years ago, infectious diseases were the leading cause of death worldwide. Today, as a result of immunization programs in Canada, infectious diseases cause less than five per cent of all deaths nationwide.

"The measles outbreak that we are experiencing throughout BC right now is largely affecting unimmunized people, and more than half of our cases are in adults." says Dr. Monika Naus, Director of Immunization at the BC Centre for Disease Control. "It's important to maintain high immunization rates so we don't see vaccine-preventable diseases come back."

Being fully up-to-date with all of your shots is not only the best way to safeguard yourself, but it also helps protect the entire community.

"If you don't have a record of immunization or if your record indicates you're not up to date, call your public health nurse or doctor and find out whether you need to be immunized," says Naus. "For example, for measles protection, everyone born after 1956 needs two doses of measles vaccine, which is given as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine."

While many vaccines given to children provide lifelong protection, that's not the case for diseases such as tetanus (lockjaw) and diphtheria for which adults require booster shots in order to maintain immunity. Immunization is also important for adults who were not adequately vaccinated as children, as they may be at risk of infection from other vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, tetanus is completely preventable in BC; adults should get a booster shot of the Td (tetanus-diphtheria) vaccine every 10 years.

The current BC immunization schedule includes vaccines that can protect all British Columbians against 14 infectious diseases: diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, Haemophilus influenzae b, hepatitis A and B, meningococcal disease, pneumococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and influenza. BC also publicly funds a vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) that is offered to girls in grades 6 and 9.

Top ten reasons to ask your health professional about adult immunization:

* You haven't checked your immunization record for years.
* Your job or lifestyle exposes you to infection.
* You're a health-care provider or caregiver.
* You have a medical condition.
* You're a student living in residence.
* You're a parent or grandparent.
* You're a gardener or work with soil.
* You plan to travel to another country.
* You're pregnant or plan to be.
* #1 - You want the best protection against vaccine preventable diseases.

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