Knowing when to vaccinate
For your child to receive maximum protection against serious childhood diseases, they need to get all their shots at the right time. To help you make sure that they do, a vaccination schedule that you can easily follow has been developed especially for infants and children. This schedule may differ a little depending on which province you live in. Talk to your child’s doctor about your provincial vaccination schedule, and ask your child’s doctor or nurse to give you a record book to help keep track of all the shots your child gets (if one hasn’t already been provided).
What vaccines should your child receive?
Some vaccines are covered by a provincial or territorial health plan, which means that you don’t have to pay for them. Others are not covered by all provincial and territorial health plans, and you may have to pay for them, depending on where you live. Ask your doctor or public health nurse for more information.
Vaccines covered by all health plans
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Hib vaccines – These vaccines can sometimes be given as a single shot, also referred to as the "5-in-1 vaccine." This vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b). There is also a 4-in-1 shot that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio.
MMR vaccine – This single shot can help protect your child from 3 diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.
Hepatitis B vaccine – This vaccine helps protect against the hepatitis B virus, which attacks the liver.
dTap – This vaccine, given to adolescents, provides protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.
Pneumococcal vaccine – This helps protect against infections caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis (brain infection), bacteremia (bloodstream infection), pneumonia (lung infection), and ear infection.
Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine – This helps protect your child or teen from chickenpox.
Meningococcal vaccine – This protects against diseases caused by a bacteria called Meningococcus, including meningitis and septicemia (a serious blood infection that can cause death very quickly).
Influenza – This annual vaccine is recommended for many age groups to prevent the seasonal flu, especially in those at high risk of serious complications from the flu, including:
- children 6 months to 59 months of age
- children with heart problems
- children with lung problems (such as asthma)
- children with medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, anemia, kidney disease, or certain neuromuscular disorders
- children taking medications that suppress the immune system
- children who need long-term treatment with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
- children who live in chronic care facilities
- children who live with other people who are at risk for flu complications
- children who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater
- children who are of Aboriginal descent
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine – There are 2 types of HPV vaccine approved in Canada. One is approved for girls and young women aged 9 to 45 and boys and young men aged 9 to 26. This vaccine protects against the 2 types of HPV that cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancers and the 2 types of HPV that cause about 90% of all genital warts. The other vaccine is approved for girls and young women aged 10 to 25. This vaccine protects against the 2 types of HPV that cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancers. Both vaccines are given in 3 doses. All provinces and territories cover the cost of the HPV vaccine for girls in certain grades or of certain ages (check with your provincial health plan to find out the specifics).
Talk to your doctor about how many doses of each vaccine your child needs and at what ages your child should receive the doses.
Children who had trouble breathing or had severe swelling of the skin or mouth when getting a previous vaccine injection should not receive these vaccines.
Vaccines not covered by all health plans
The following vaccines are recommended even though they may not be covered by all provincial and territorial health plans. You may have to pay for them, depending on where you live. To find out more, talk to your child’s doctor.
These vaccines are:
Rotavirus vaccine: Recommended for children aged 6 weeks to 32 weeks, this vaccine protects your child from the most common cause of severe diarrhea in babies and infants. Rotavirus infections can lead to dehydration that when severe require intravenous (into a vein) fluids. There are two vaccines available in Canada in liquid form that are given by mouth.
Travel vaccines – If you are planning a family trip outside of Canada, speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic 6 to 8 weeks before your trip to find out whether you or your child will need any
immunizations before you travel.
Talk to your child’s doctor to find out if these vaccines are right for your child.
It’s not too late to vaccinate
If your child was not vaccinated as a baby, it’s not too late to help protect your child against childhood diseases. Talk to your child’s doctor about vaccination schedules for older children.
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