op-ed by Dr. Nadia Alam, President, Ontario Medical Association
Last week, one single person with confirmed measles visited one single mall on one single day — that’s all it took to prompt both the York Region and Toronto public health units to issue a warning to anyone in the mall at that time. People were asked to make sure their immunizations were up to date and to seek immediate help if symptoms appeared. That’s how contagious and serious measles is.
In Ontario, we’ve forgotten how quickly and easily diseases like measles and rubella spread — and how devastating they can be, particularly to pregnant women and children, with life-long effects. This is because childhood vaccinations have been proven safe and almost completely eliminated such diseases such as measles and rubella in the province.
Measles, for example, can cause pneumonia, encephalopathy (brain inflammation) or serious problems even years after the initial infection. Children are more vulnerable and can become very sick very quickly, sometimes within hours.
Parents want to protect their children, but there’s a lot of misinformation being spread about vaccinations – especially on social media. It has clouded the issue and raised doubts.
But when some of us opt out of vaccinations, it puts the whole community at risk. A single case can quickly become an outbreak. So here are some facts:
So talk to your doctor about vaccines. Mention your concerns. Get the facts. If you go online to get information, make sure it’s from a reputable website such as the Public Health Agency of Canada.
This is one of the most important decisions you can make for your child, and for your community.
Fact: There is zero scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.This myth started after a single study – now wholly discredited – suggested the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine increased autism rates in children. The causes of autism are still not completely understood, but we know there is no evidence of any link between the MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders.Tweet this #VaccinesWork
Fact: Your immune system can handle multiple vaccines at the same time.Getting multiple vaccines at the same time doesn’t negatively affect your immune system. You already come into contact with hundreds of substances every day that can trigger immune responses, and a vaccine exposes your immune system to fewer antigens than the common cold. And having several vaccines at the same time reduces both the number of clinic visits and the number of injections.
Tweet this #VaccinesWork
Fact: If everyone stopped getting vaccinated, rare diseases today like polio and measles would come back quickly.When the majority of a population is vaccinated, there’s little opportunity for an outbreak. This is called “herd immunity”: the entire population is more protected, including infants too young to be vaccinated and those with weakened immune systems like cancer patients. It is important that those who can be vaccinated get vaccinated to help keep everyone healthy.Tweet this #VaccinesWork
Fact: Vaccines are safe but like any medication, there are some mild side effects.It’s more likely that you’ll become seriously ill from a vaccine-preventable disease than from a vaccine. The benefits of protecting yourself and those around you far outweigh any potential risks and side effects from vaccines.
Tweet this #VaccinesWork
Fact: You’re never too old to get vaccinated. Doctors recommend that children are vaccinated at a young age so they’re protected from vaccine preventable diseases that can be serious or even deadly for kids. That said, some vaccines are equally as important for adults and seniors as they are for children. Speak to your doctor if you are unsure of your immunization records or were not vaccinated at a young age.Tweet this #VaccinesWork
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