As parents await the approval of the COVID vaccine for children ages five to 11, experts at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) are stressing the importance of all the other vaccinations kids normally get. Throughout the pandemic, many childhood vaccinations have been forgotten or postponed – such as tetanus, chicken pox, and hepatitis.
“It’s important to receive routine childhood vaccinations to prevent the spread of dangerous diseases that can cause significant illness, hospitalization, spread, and even death,” says Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, pediatric infectious diseases doctor at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH). “If not enough children in the community get routine vaccines, we may see outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases among kids, elderly people, or adults.”
Routine vaccinations for children are free, and can be obtained through the family physician or clinic.
When children are 18 months old, they should receive a booster for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and haemophilus influenza b. At age four to six, they should receive a booster for measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.
Around grade seven, young people receive vaccines for hepatitis B, meningococcus, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
“Teenage vaccines like Hepatitis B and HPV are important to be given at school-ages, prior to specific risky behaviours, which can result in lifelong chronic diseases,” says Dr. Martha Fulford, infectious diseases doctor at MCH.
Finally, as teens attend high school, they should receive their tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster.
Routine vaccines can be given at family doctor’s offices or school clinics offered by Public Health.
For more information and resources on routine child immunizations, please visit the Hamilton Health Sciences website at https://www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/share/routine-vaccines-kids/ .