Immunization is one of the most important things you can do to protect the health of your child. Immunizations prevent serious illness by helping the body make its own protection. They are really important for children who spend time in group settings like child cares.
Every immunized person helps make a healthier community. We know they are safe and they provide the best protection when given on schedule. Check out some immunization basics.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Check out our Diseases That Vaccines Prevent page to find out what diseases you can avoid by immunizing.
- Vaccines have a weakened germ, an inactivated germ, or pieces of a germ in them. These germs do not make you sick.
- These germs stimulate your body’s immune system to build antibodies to fight off the disease.
- Antibodies stay in your body and reactivate (‘wake up’) when the actual disease enters your body.
- Often, the antibodies last for a lifetime. However, with some vaccines you need a booster to remind your body of what it needs to do to fight off the disease.
Routine immunizations provide protection against 13 diseases by the time your child is 15 months. This means your child will get several shots spread out over the first 15 months of life. Some vaccines are combined to provide protection against several diseases at once – this reduces the number of shots needed. Check out our Diseases That Vaccines Prevent page to learn more about diseases you can avoid by immunizing.
Some vaccines need to be given more than once in order to provide full protection. Your child’s immune system will build some immunity each time s/he is immunized. With some vaccines, your child’s body will need a reminder or booster to stay protected.
Getting My Child Immunized
Parents and guardians often wonder how to make the immunization experience as positive as possible for their children. Learn more about how to make immunization a positive experience for you and for your children.
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Child Care Immunizations
When parents/guardians enroll a child in a licensed child care centre, the operator of the centre will ask them to complete the Licensed Child Care Entry Immunization Questionnaire and provide a copy of the child’s immunization record to the child care. These forms are usually provided to parents by the child care.
In Ontario, the Child Care and Early Years Act states children in child care must be immunized according to the recommendation of the local Medical Officer of Health. This means that in Elgin County, children need to be immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal disease, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal disease, and varicella/chickenpox (only if the child has not already had chickenpox).
If children are not immunized for medical or personal reasons, an exemption is required. Find out more about Exemptions.
Under the Child Care and Early Years Act, Medical Officers of Health have to have an immunization record on file for children in licensed child care centres. Having a child’s record on file will also help Elgin St. Thomas Public Health find out who is at risk if there is an outbreak. If there is an outbreak, children who do not have proof of immunization or immunity may not be allowed at the child care centre until it is over or they are immunized.
The operator of a licensed child care centre forwards all immunization records and updates to Elgin St. Thomas Public Health. A Public Health Nurse meets yearly with licensed child care centre operators to review the immunization records for all children who are currently enrolled in the centre.
If a child is overdue for any immunizations, the Public Health Nurse will provide a letter to the operator of the child care centre to give to the parent/guardian. This letter lists which immunizations are overdue.
If the immunization has still not been completed by the date on the letter, your child may not be able to attend child care until the immunization is given.
If you received a notice for your child, it is because we do not have complete information for your child for one of the following reasons:
You have not reported your child’s complete immunization record to Elgin St. Thomas Public Health.
Your child is overdue for one or more immunizations.
- Contact your child’s doctor/health care provider to obtain immunization records or to make an appointment to receive the required immunization(s). Once you receive the information and/or your child is immunized, report your child’s vaccines to Public Health.
- You may also book at appointment at a Public Health Immunization Clinic.
You have chosen not to have your child vaccinated (for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons) but have not provided the appropriate forms to the health unit.
- Find out more about Exemptions.
Vaccines are safe. Vaccines, like all medicines, must go through several stages of testing before they are approved for use in Canada. Vaccines are held to the highest possible safety standard in healthcare. Learn more about vaccine safety.
The most common side effects after getting a vaccine are mild – sore arm or leg, some redness and swelling at the injection site, and low grade fever. Ask your healthcare provider what to look for after getting a vaccine. Serious reactions are very rare, but a small number of people do have them. If you notice something that you think could be serious, call your healthcare provider. Allergic reactions like spreading hives (blotchy red raised areas), wheezing, or swelling of the face and mouth are extremely rare. If your child has any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Yes! It is important to keep a record of your child’s immunizations. The first time your child is immunized, your healthcare provider should give you a yellow immunization card. Bring your yellow card to every appointment to keep track of what shots your child has had. Your child will need proof of immunization for things like child care, school, camp, and later on in life, many college and university programs need proof of immunization too.
Yes! Your health care provider doesn’t usually tell the health unit when your child is immunized, so you need to report that information. The health unit needs to have your child’s immunization information if s/he is in child care or in school. Report your child’s immunizations to Public Health.