Many diseases can be prevented by immunizations. Learn more about these diseases and the vaccines that prevent them below.
Most of the vaccines that protect against these diseases are provided free of charge to all Ontario residents. Not sure if you’re eligible for free vaccine? Call Elgin St. Thomas Public Health at 519-631-9900 to talk to a nurse.
The most common cause of bacterial meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in children under 5 years of age. Meningitis can cause brain damage, learning and developmental problems, deafness, and blindness. These bacteria may also cause a serious infection in the throat, pneumonia, and bone and joint infections.
A liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus. People often get hepatitis A from contaminated food or water. People who are infected with hepatitis A may lose their appetite, feel sick to their stomach, lose their energy, have a fever, and/or become jaundiced (yellow skin and eyes). About one out of four adults who get the virus are hospitalized because of it.
A liver infection caused by the Hepatitis B virus. People infected with hepatitis B may have it for life which leaves them at risk of developing liver cancer. About half of adults and most children who get the disease have no symptoms. If symptoms occur they include: loss of appetite, weakness, tiredness, headache, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). A small number of people die from the infection.
A very common sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cancer and genital warts. Many people with HPV infections do not have any symptoms, but can still carry the virus and infect others. Although the body’s immune system usually gets rid of the virus on its own, some people develop a lasting infection that leads to cancer of the genitals and head and neck. In Canada, there are about 400 deaths from cervical cancer each year.
A respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, cough, muscle aches, headache, chills, loss of appetite, tiredness, and sore throat. In Canada, about 12,200 people are hospitalized because of the flu each year, and about 3,500 die from it. The influenza virus changes, so different vaccines are needed every year to fight it. The vaccine can be given to anyone 6 months of age and older. People at greatest risk for complications from influenza include children aged 6-23 months, those with chronic medical conditions, and the elderly.
A serious bacterial infection that can cause swelling of the brain and spinal cord, and infection of the blood and other organs. Infected people often have a fever, rash, intense headache, a stiff neck, and are sensitive to light. The disease can come on suddenly and progress very quickly. It can result in blindness, deafness, seizures, and amputation of infected limbs. About one out of 10 people who get the disease die from it.
A viral infection that can cause fever, headaches, and swelling of the salivary glands in the cheeks and jaw. It can also cause painful, swollen testicles in males and painful infection of the ovaries in females. Mumps can also cause meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), which could result in permanent brain damage and deafness.
A serious disease, especially in young children. People with pertussis develop violent coughing spells that can lead to vomiting and can cause breathing to stop for a short period of time. The cough can last for weeks. Children usually get pertussis from the adults taking care of them, even when the adult does not know they are infected. The infection can cause breathing problems, pneumonia, brain damage, and even death.
A very serious disease that is spread by infected animals. It can cause confusion, breathing problems, seizures, agitation, and paralysis. Symptoms may appear 2 to 8 weeks after the exposure. Once symptoms occur, there is no cure and the person will likely die. People exposed to rabies should be treated as soon as possible after the exposure. The vaccine for rabies is not publicly funded before an exposure. If a person has been exposed and is being treated for rabies, the treatment is free.
The most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children. About 500,000 young children die because of rotavirus worldwide every year. Rotavirus often causes sudden fever and vomiting followed by diarrhea that can last up to a week. Children with diarrhea are at risk for becoming dehydrated and may need to be hospitalized.
An infection that may cause fever, sore throat, swollen glands in the neck, and rash on the face and neck. The disease is usually mild in young children, but can be more severe in older children and adults. Temporary aches and pains and swelling of the joints are common in adolescents and adults, especially females, and may be followed by lifelong arthritis. Rubella can also cause temporary blood clotting problems and swelling of the brain. Rubella is very dangerous in pregnant women. If a woman gets rubella in the early part of pregnancy, the baby may die or be severely handicapped. The most common handicaps are cataracts, deafness, mental disabilities, and heart defects.
A disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus; the same virus that causes chickenpox. People who have had chickenpox keep the virus in their bodies. Sometimes this virus reactivates to cause shingles. Shingles is most common in people over 50 years old, but may occur in anyone who has had chickenpox. Shingles symptoms include pain, burning, tingling, and a red skin rash that appears a few days after the pain starts. The rash turns into fluid-filled blisters that break open and then crust over. Shingles can cause nerve pain that can last for months or even years after the rash has healed. Shingles can lead to eye infections and blindness, central nervous system infections, nerve problems, and bacterial infections.
A disease that occurs when dirt containing the tetanus bacteria gets into a cut in the skin. This bacteria is found in soil, dust, and animal manure. Tetanus causes muscle cramping and seizures usually starting in the jaw and moving to the neck, arms, legs, and stomach. Tetanus kills about 2 out of every 10 people who get the disease.
A disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox usually infects young children. Older children and adults can also get the infection if they haven’t already had the disease. Chickenpox causes tiredness, headache, fever, chills, and muscle or joint aches. Raised itchy red blisters appear in stages anywhere on the body. Chickenpox can lead to more serious problems like skin infections, swelling of the brain, and pneumonia.