The Regional Municipality of Durham

News Release

Health Department emphasizes the importance of getting routine vaccines during National Immunization Awareness Week

WHITBY, ON April 15, 2013 – Durham Region Health Department marks National Immunization Awareness Week, April 20 to 27, by reminding residents of the importance of getting routine vaccines.

“The recommended immunization schedule provides children with the best protection when they need it most,” said Stephen Rew, a public health nurse with Durham Region Health Department. “However, no matter what your age, vaccines play an important part in maintaining good health and stopping the spread of vaccine preventable diseases.”

National Immunization Awareness Week is a good opportunity to remind residents to check with their health care provider to ensure their immunization record is up-to-date, especially if residents plan on travelling. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, immunization in Canada has decreased most vaccine preventable diseases, but they still exist in other parts of the world. The risk of getting a vaccine preventable disease exists for those who are not protected.

“In the past few years, there have been mumps and pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks in some Ontario communities, often where vaccine rates are low,” added Mr. Rew. “By keeping your immunization record up-to-date, residents can protect themselves and help decrease the spread of these diseases.” This is especially important if residents are in contact with those at higher risk of illness such as the very young, the elderly, pregnant women and those with health problems. Most vaccine preventable diseases are easily spread through coughing, sneezing, talking and sharing items like a drink.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, vaccines are among the safest tools of modern medicine. The dangers of vaccine preventable diseases may include debilitating illnesses such as brain damage, blindness, paralysis and even death.

The Health Department reviews immunization records for all children in licensed day nurseries and schools. Parents are asked to report their child’s vaccine updates to the Health Department to ensure their child’s record is current as health care providers do not routinely report vaccine updates on your behalf. According to the Day Nurseries Act and the Immunization of School Pupils Act, children must at least be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. The Health Department works with licensed day nurseries, schools and parents to ensure that every child is fully vaccinated. Parents of children who go to a day nursery or school must contact the Health Department if they object to immunization based on conscience or religious beliefs, or if their child cannot be immunized for medical reasons.

“This collaboration between parents, schools, day nurseries and the Health Department helps to prevent outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in our community,” explained Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health.

To help parents keep their child’s vaccines up-to-date, the Health Department offers catch-up clinics for those who are eligible for publicly-funded vaccines. To book an appointment, to update your child’s immunization record, or for more information about childhood or adult vaccines, call Durham Health Connection Line at 906-666-6242 or 1-800-841-2729 or visit

Media Inquiries:
Alicia Cowan – Health Department
905-668-7711 ext. 2952