I was pleased to rise in the house today to recognize April 21-28, 2012 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.
In comparison to the pre-vaccine era, Canada has seen a 95 per cent reduction in many vaccine preventable diseases such as German measles, red measles, and tetanus.
Other diseases such as polio and smallpox have been practically eliminated.
Within the past decade, effective vaccines have become available to prevent chicken pox, meningococcal and pneumococcal disease, and to reduce the effect of human papilloma virus infection which causes cervical cancer.
Immunization is not just for children. Adults have ongoing immunization needs as well.
Adults who are immunized are not only protecting themselves but offer protection against the spread of diseases to children who have not yet completed their full series of childhood immunizations.
As more people are immunized, the risk of disease for everyone is reduced.
The 2012 Chief Public Health Officer’s Report shows Prince Edward Island is below the national goal of 95 per cent immunization rates for children.
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 delivered by Public Health Nursing in Health PEI, for children under 18 years of age and students.
Public Health Nursing also provides vaccines to adults including occupational groups and persons at increased risk of particular diseases.
Our department and this government is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our Island community but we need the help of all Islanders in protecting our children and each other by getting vaccinated appropriately.