As you might have seen on the BC-CDC website, or read in your local news, starting in January there will be three new vaccines offered to children in BC. Children will be offered a 2nd dose of the chickenpox vaccine at school entry (4-6 years of age), and an oral rotavirus immunization will be offered for infants born after November 1st, 2011. The rotavirus immunization prevents almost all severe cases of rotavirus requiring hospitalizations; rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhoea, and hospitalization for diarrhoea, in children under five years of age. Finally, a Hepatitis A immunization will be offered to Aboriginal infants, children and adolescents aged 6 months to 18 years.
Many parents have concerns about the number of vaccines offered to children, but as the ImmunizeBC site explains, a child's immune system can more than handle them. Think of all the things you put in your mouth as a child- toys, shoes, whatever you found on the floor. Each mystery object a child eagerly explores with his or her mouth (or up his or her nose, as the case may be) has far more foreign bodies on it than are delivered in an immunization. Immunizations are there to defend against the viruses their immunize system can't fight off on their own.
Other parents wonder if we are immunizing for diseases that are "no big deal." Chickenpox is an example- most children with chickenpox suffer no complications, but in all children it causes hundreds painful blisters, and in some cases can lead to pneumonia and swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Furthermore, an immunization can make a big difference: since introducing the chickenpox vaccine in 2004, hospitalizations related to chickenpox have dropped 84%! That's huge.
If you encounter fellow community members or parents with questions about these new immunizations, direct them to ImmunizeBC or to call HealthLink BC (8-1-1) for more information! To share your thoughts on these new immunizations, visit the I Have Immunity Facebook Page!
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