Between birth and 6 years of age, infants and children are offered free vaccines that protect them against 14 different diseases:
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Hepatitis B
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
*All Aboriginal children are also offered a vaccine that protects against hepatitis A.
Some of these vaccines are given as combination vaccines (vaccines that contain more than one vaccine in a single shot) and some are given individually. Combination vaccines are safe and provide the same protection as vaccines given individually, but with fewer shots.
When should your child get vaccines?
For best protection against disease, it’s advised that children get vaccinated on time starting at 2 months of age and that they follow the recommended schedule as closely as possible. These vaccines protect children against diseases that can cause serious illness, long-term disability and death.
These vaccines require more than one dose to produce immunity and long-lasting protection. Your child should get the recommended number of doses of each vaccine, on schedule, to be fully protected.
Children with chronic health conditions may need additional vaccines, or additional doses of a vaccine. If your child has a chronic condition, talk to your doctor or public health nurse about their vaccination schedule.
Learn more about why it's important to follow the recommended schedule here.
More questions about vaccine schedules? We have answers here.
Where can my child get vaccinated?
Childhood vaccines are available through community health centres, doctor’s offices, and medical clinics. Pharmacists can vaccinate children who are five years of age and older. Services vary across B.C.
It’s best to book your child’s appointment well in advance as clinics book up quickly. This helps to ensure your child is vaccinated on time.
Additional vaccines available for purchase
Children may also benefit from additional vaccines that are available for purchase, such as vaccines that protect against hepatitis A and additional types of meningococcal bacteria. View these resources from the BC Pediatric Society to learn more about non-publicly funded vaccines.
If you are travelling with your child, your child may require vaccines to protect against diseases that are rare in Canada but common in other parts of the world. Find information on travel vaccines here.
Talk to your health care provider to find out if your child has all the protection they need.
Why aren't all vaccines free in B.C.? Find out here.
Keeping track of your child's immunizations
If your child was born in B.C., you should have received a Child Health Passport that contains an immunization record. If you did not receive one, you can request one from your community health centre.
It’s important to bring your child’s immunization record with you to every immunization appointment and to make sure your health care provider updates it each time your child receives a vaccine.
Always keep a current immunization record for your child in a safe place. An up-to-date record is especially important if you move to a new province or territory, as there is no national immunization registry. You may need your child’s record if you register your child for daycare, summer camp, college or university and for some travel.
If your child does not have a Child Health Passport or immunization record card, you can download and print an immunization record card here. There is also a free mobile app that can help you keep track of immunizations. You can find more information about the app at CANImmunize.ca.
If you have misplaced your child’s immunization record, you can find tips on locating it here.