Children’s Vaccination Facts
Parents want to protect their children, but there’s a lot of misinformation being spread about vaccinations – especially on social media. There is no doubt, vaccines save lives.
Children’s Vaccination Facts
Parents want to protect their children, but there’s a lot of misinformation being spread about vaccinations – especially on social media. There is no doubt, vaccines save lives.

OMA Podcast:

Vaccinations with Dr. Shalea Piteau

What are Vaccines and Immunizations?

What is an immunization?
Immunization is the process of an individual becoming immune or resistant to an infection or disease. People are typically immunized through vaccines, a proven tool to help control and eliminate life-threatening infections and diseases around the world.

What are vaccines and how do they work?
Vaccines are a biological product that are prepared with small amounts of dead, weakened or inactive germs or toxins from a particular infection or disease. The foreign inactive germ or toxin stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize it and defeat it. In doing this, the immune system builds antibodies as well as learns and remembers how to fight the infection or disease if it comes into contact with it again. Most vaccines are given by injection (by needle) into the upper arm or thigh, some vaccines can be given orally (by mouth) or nasally (by nose).

What diseases do vaccines protect against?
There are many devastating diseases that used to be common both in Canada and around the world that are now prevented by vaccination. Some of these diseases include:

· Measles

· Pertussis (whooping cough)

· Mumps

· Tetanus

· Rubella (German measles)

· Rotavirus

· Polio

· Haemophilus influenzae type b

· Diphtheria


Do vaccines have any side effects?
With any medical product, including vaccines, there is the risk of side effects. For the most part, side effects from vaccines are minor and resolve themselves in a couple of days. Common side effects from vaccines include:

  • Mild fever;
  • Soreness, redness, and or swelling in the area the vaccine was given;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea;
  • Muscle aches.

Speak to your family doctor to discuss potential side effects of specific vaccines.

Are Vaccines Safe?

Vaccines are safe. Vaccines continue to provide one of the best defenses against serious and preventable contagious diseases and infections. All vaccines used in Canada are rigorously tested through multiple phases of trials before they are used. Once vaccines are approved for use, they are carefully monitored to ensure their safety and effectiveness. It is more likely to become ill from a vaccine-preventable disease than from a vaccine. If you are looking for information about vaccines, it is important to remember the source – make sure the information is evidence based.

It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor about your immunization history, and or any questions or concerns you may have about getting a vaccine.

Are the ingredients in vaccines harmful?
No. You may have heard or read that some of the ingredients could be harmful like mercury, aluminum or formaldehyde. While large doses of these chemicals are toxic to humans, there is no evidence that the amount of these chemicals used in vaccines is dangerous.

Is the vaccine more dangerous than the disease?
No.  The impacts of the vaccine-preventable diseases are far more devastating than the potential side effects from a vaccine.

Vaccine-preventable diseases can lead to serious illnesses and complications such as pneumonia, deafness, brain damage, heart problems, blindness, and paralysis as well as the risk of death.

Can the vaccine give me or my child the disease it’s supposed to prevent?
No. The germ to cause disease it must be active, it is not possible for an inactivated vaccine to cause a disease.

It is true that some vaccines do contain weakened live versions of the whole germ. For someone with a healthy immune system, these weakened germs will not cause the disease. However, for people with very weak immune systems live vaccines will not be given as it is possible these patients may develop the disease the vaccine is meant to protect against. Your doctor will make sure that you or your child can safely receive a live vaccine before administering it. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns. 

Can vaccines cause autism?
No, vaccines do not cause autism. The 1997 study that suggested that vaccines could cause autism was inaccurate and has since been discredited due to ethical violations, financial conflicts of interest as well as procedural errors. While the causes of autism are still not completely understood, we do know that there is no evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders.

Vaccines for Children

Vaccines are the most effective way to keep children safe from many serious diseases. Staying on track with the vaccination schedule is key to keeping children healthy. The vaccination schedule was designed to ensure children are protected before they are typically exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about vaccinating your child.

When should my child be vaccinated?
For children to be fully protected from vaccine-preventable disease they need to be vaccinated in stages.

Ontario has developed a routine immunization schedule to make it easy to keep your family up to date with the recommended vaccinations. 

Ontario’s immunization Schedule ( and
For children in Ontario to attend school, they need to be immunized against several infectious diseases. Speak to your doctor or local public health unit to make sure your child has all the necessary vaccines. The School Immunization Checklist can help you keep track: (

Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about when children should be vaccinated.

What about children who can’t be vaccinated?
In very specific cases, children may not be able to receive vaccinations because they are immunocompromised or have specific allergies to ingredients in the vaccine. Should this be the case, your doctor will inform you, and will give you the necessary informati

on and support. In these situations, it is important to make sure that those around your child are up-to-date on their vaccinations to minimize any exposure to vaccine preventable diseases.

Are vaccines only for kids?
No, vaccines are meant for everyone. You are never too old to be vaccinated. Doctors recommend that children be vaccinated so that they are protected from a young age from vaccine-preventable disease that can be serious or even deadly. Speak with your doctor if you think you may have missed vaccines as a child or are unsure of your vaccine history.

Vaccine Facts

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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