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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Vaccinate?

  • Vaccinations protect individuals and communities by preventing the spread of disease. As more of us are vaccinated, the risk of disease for everyone is reduced. If you are not up-to-date with your vaccinations, you may be at risk of infection from diseases; you can also infect others.

What is Immunity?

  • When you get sick, your body makes antibodies to help you get better. These antibodies stay in your body even after the infection is gone. They protect you from getting the same illness again. This is called immunity. However, you don't have to get sick to develop immunity. You can gain immunity against disease through vaccination.

How does a vaccine work to protect me?

  • Getting vaccinated protects you from disease by introducing an antigen (a killed or greatly weakened form of a virus or bacteria) into the body. The antigen tricks your body into thinking it is being attacked by a virus or bacteria; the body then triggers an antibody response. Memory cells make re-infection by viruses or bacteria difficult. Memory cells are part of the immune system; they protect the body against infection.

    Getting vaccinated means you are protected without getting ill and without the risk of potential life-threatening complications from disease.

Are vaccines safe?

  • Yes. The vaccines used in Canada are very safe. They are developed using the highest standards. They are routinely monitored and tested both in Canada and around the world before they are approved for use.

Do vaccines cause autism?

  • No. Vaccines do not cause autism. Medical researchers and scientists around the world have not found a link between vaccines and autism - a lifelong developmental disorder. The study that initially reported a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism was retracted in 2011.

Do vaccines contain traces of preservatives, additives or residual products?

  • The routine vaccines used on children in Canada do not contain preservatives like thimerosal (an ethyl mercury derivative); they have not contained these preservatives since March 2001. However, the influenza vaccine contains low doses of thimerosal in multi-dose vaccine vials; it keeps the vaccine from getting contaminated. The low doses have not produced any negative health effects.

    Some vaccines contain additives like gelatin. Gelatin helps vaccines stay effective when they are stored. Sometimes products like formaldehyde are used in the making of vaccines to kill viruses or bacteria; the formaldehyde is removed from the final product.

What is an adjuvant?

  • An adjuvant is an agent used to stimulate the immune system and increase your response to a vaccine. Without an adjuvant, you would need to have more frequent or higher doses of vaccines to be protected. There are many adjuvants in use such as aluminum salts, a naturally occurring mineral often present in plants, animals, humans and food.

Will multiple vaccinations overwhelm the immune system?

  • No. Every day our bodies come in contact with millions of germs, causing our immune system to work continuously to protect us.  Our immune systems can easily handle the antigens (parts of weak or dead viruses or bacteria) in vaccines.

Is it safe to be vaccinated when you are pregnant?

  • Being vaccinated when you are pregnant protects you from a vaccine-preventable disease that you could spread to your fetus. Inactivated vaccines are generally safe in pregnancy. The inactivated influenza vaccine and hepatitis A & B vaccines (for women who are travelling to an area where there is a risk of infection) are examples of two vaccines that are recommended for pregnant women.

Where can I and my family be vaccinated?

  • Family physicians, paediatricians, pharmacists (services may vary across jurisdictions) and local public health offices offer vaccination services. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about what vaccinations you need.

Where can I access my immunization record?

  • Contact your health care provider to get a copy of your immunization records.
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