I rise in the house today to recognize this week as National Immunization Awareness Week.
No other health care intervention in the past 50 years has saved the lives of more babies and children than immunization.
As more people are immunized, the risk of disease for everyone is reduced.
In comparison to the pre-vaccine era, Canada has seen a 95 per cent reduction in many vaccine preventable diseases while other diseases have been practically eliminated.
Declining immunization rates in a population can lead to the return of diseases such as mumps, measles and pertussis, or whooping cough, which were previously controlled.
Our province maintains a strong publicly funded immunization program.
Recent programs have included:
– the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine for infants aged 2 and 4 months, which has significantly reduced the rates of infection and hospitalization;
– enhanced pertussis protection for infants where mothers, fathers and all caregivers are encouraged to receive the vaccine at no cost;
– free boosters of Tetanus and Pertussis containing vaccine for all Islanders;
– free influenza vaccine coverage to all Islanders 65 years of age and over; and
– Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine expanded to include free immunization for Grade 6 boys, as well as girls.
Immunization rates for all vaccines in Prince Edward Island’s immunization program compare favorably with other provinces.
As with the rest of the country, PEI’s immunization goal is 95 per cent coverage by age two.
The Chief Public Health Office established an immunization rates committee to develop recommendations on how to continually improve immunization rates.
The committee agreed to focus on three action areas to improve immunization rates for all children: education for healthcare providers, immunization messaging to the public and enhanced surveillance of immunization rates.
Our department is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our Island community.
However, to do so we need the help of all Islanders in protecting our children and each other by getting vaccinated appropriately.