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Welcome to Canada!

Here, you can learn about how immunization works in Canada.

Canada has a universal health care system. This means that you do not have to pay for most health care services, so that everyone has access to care when they need it. Each province and territory have their own health care plan, so the services that are covered can be different depending on where you live. Be sure to check what is covered in your province or territory.

Immunizations (also known as vaccination, shots or needles) are a very important part of staying healthy in Canada. Immunization programs are part of our universal health care system, and most recommended vaccines are given for free. We protect ourselves and each other from the spread of diseases that can cause harm and even death by making sure we get the vaccinations we need.

Each province and territory have their own immunization program, which is often called a “routine immunization schedule”. Whether you have just arrived or have lived in Canada for many months or years, we encourage you to learn more about which vaccinations you and your family may need.

To learn more about your province or territory’s program, talk to your health care provider, or visit the “Provincial Vaccination Schedules” section of CANImmunize.

Almost all immunizations that are part of the recommended routine immunization schedule are publicly funded, meaning they are given for free. Check your province or territory’s routine immunization schedule to see which vaccinations are paid for in your health care plan.

When you think of Canada, contagious diseases probably don’t come to mind. It’s true - diseases that can be prevented by vaccines (such as measles, mumps and pertussis) are rare, thanks to our immunization programs and health care system. However, there are still diseases which can easily be spread if people are not vaccinated. It is important that we all continue to do our part to protect ourselves and people around us by making sure we are vaccinated. As more of us are vaccinated, the risk of disease for everyone is reduced.

For more information on how vaccination works and vaccine safety, visit “A Parent's Guide to Vaccination”, which is published by the Public Health Agency of Canada in 13 different languages.

Children and Teenagers


It is very important for young children to be immunized on time to protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to make sure your child stays healthy. As children get older, some vaccines begin to wear off. Older children receive another dose of the vaccine (often called a “booster shot”) so that they stay protected.

Children in Canada are recommended to be vaccinated against these preventable diseases:

  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza (Flu)
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Varicella (chickenpox)

To learn more about each vaccine and the disease they prevent, visit the “Vaccine Fact Sheets” section of CANImmunize.

Adults


Vaccinations aren’t just for kids - adults need them, too! Some vaccines wear off as we get older, so adults may need booster shots to maintain immunity. Not only does this help you stay healthy, but it also protects the people around you - especially babies and the elderly.

Recommended vaccines for all healthy adults who have been vaccinated before include:

  • Diphtheria and tetanus
  • Herpes zoster
  • Influenza
  • Pertussis
  • Pneumococcal

The vaccines you may need as an adult depend on many things, such as:

  • If you were vaccinated as a child
  • Your medical history
  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Job
  • If you are planning to become pregnant
  • Travel plans

To learn more visit “Vaccination for Adults”.

If you or your children have certain health conditions, your vaccination needs may change. You may need to get more vaccines and be vaccinated more often. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider.

Traveling outside of Canada to visit friends and family? You could be at an increased risk for certain vaccine-preventable diseases that are rare in Canada, but common in other parts of the world.

Make sure you and your family are healthy now and in the future - vaccinate before you leave!

If you are planning to travel outside of Canada, it is very important to talk to a travel medicine clinic or health care provider at least six weeks before you leave. They will make sure that you are up-to-date with your routine immunization schedule. Depending on where you go, you may need additional vaccines to stay protected. You will also learn about how you can avoid other travel-related illnesses. Always remember to bring the CANImmunize app  as well as your official immunization record with you to your appointment!

To learn more about which vaccine-preventable diseases may pose a risk to international travellers, visit “Travel Vaccinations” in the information section of CANImmunize, or the Government of Canada’s website for travellers.

It depends on the province or territory you live in. No matter where you live, you will most likely get vaccinated when you see a doctor for the first time in Canada. Other places you can go to get vaccinated include:

  • Public Health Clinics
  • Doctors offices
  • Pharmacies

To learn more about where you can get immunized, follow this link. Simply enter your postal code, select your vaccine category, select the vaccines you need, and press “search for a vaccinating clinic”.

School Immunizations

In all provinces and territories, vaccinations are given at school. Your child may come home with a paper that asks for your permission for your child to be vaccinated. To learn more about school vaccinations, talk to your local public health office or your health care provider.

How is it done?

When you or your child are vaccinated, your healthcare provider will give you a paper record. This paper record is your official proof that you have received a certain vaccine. It has information such as the date you got the vaccine, the name of the vaccine, and the dose you were given. Be sure to keep this record in a safe and memorable place.

In addition to your official, paper record you can keep track of your immunizations and receive reminders for upcoming vaccinations using CANImmunize.

Why is it important?

There are many reasons why you should keep track of your family’s vaccinations:

  • Children are vaccinated often, and they need to be given at the right time for the best protection. It’s a lot to remember. Keeping track of their vaccinations will help you stick to the immunization schedule and keep your child healthy!
  • Some vaccines begin to wear off as your children get older, and require a booster shot. An up-to-date vaccination record makes this process easier for you and your health care provider.
  • If you see another health care provider, they may want to see your immunization record
  • If you do not have records of vaccination, you may be required to receive another set of duplicate vaccinations.
  • Keeping track of your child’s immunizations now will help them in the future if they need official proof that they have been vaccinated. This could be for a job, travel, or when they receive booster shots as an adult.
  • Some provinces (such as Ontario and New Brunswick) require proof that your child’s vaccines are up-to-date in order to attend school. The immunization record your healthcare provider gives you after your child is vaccinated is the proof you need to show.

Always bring your paper record with you when you or your child get vaccinated so it can be updated after each visit!

Even if you have been vaccinated before, you should still talk to your health care provider. This is because immunization programs in other countries may be different from what is recommended in Canada. Depending on where you immigrated from and the vaccines you received, you may need to complete a special vaccination schedule (known as a catch-up schedule). If you have any other vaccination records, be sure to bring them with you when you visit a health care provider for the first time in Canada.

If you are a refugee who was vaccinated through a government program before you came to Canada, bring any documentation you received with you when you visit your healthcare provider.

If you do not have records of previous vaccination, talk to your healthcare provider about what you need to do in order to ensure you are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

If you don’t know if you have been vaccinated, and/or do not have vaccination records, your healthcare provider may place you on a special immunization schedule (known as a catch-up schedule). Get in touch with your local public health office or clinic to set up an appointment with a health care provider.

The timing of when you or your children receive the vaccine may be different depending on your province or territory. If you move, contact your local health care provider to find out if there are any changes to your child’s immunization schedule.

The content and resources provided by CANImmunize are generated by the mHealth Lab team and its partners, including medical experts from leading Canadian Health Organizations. It is designed to help you make the most informed decisions about your and your family’s vaccination needs, but should not replace medical advice. Please discuss these topics with your healthcare provider. No content on the CANImmunize platform implies endorsement.

Last updated: 01/11/2018

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