Less than one hundred years ago in Canada, 1 in every 10 children died within the first year of life. The majority of these deaths were caused by infectious diseases. Since then, vaccinations for many of these infectious diseases have been developed. Today, the number of children who die within the first year of life is about one infant death per two hundred live births. Most of these deaths are caused by non-infectious diseases. Immunization has been a key part in this change.
The table below highlights the large reduction in cases of childhood diseases after the implementation of each vaccination program, comparing pre-vaccination cases of the disease to the number of cases reported after the implementation of the vaccination program, specifically between 2007 and 2011.
For information on the immunization schedule for Ontario and/or where to get vaccinated, see the health unit’s website on immunization.
While the number of cases and rate of vaccine preventable diseases is decreasing, many of these diseases still exist in Canada and it is important to get vaccinated. Vaccines trigger our bodies to make specific antibodies to fight these diseases. People visiting other countries can bring vaccine preventable diseases back to Canada. For example, over 600 cases of measles were reported in Quebec in the first half of 2011, some of which were imported from Europe before infecting others.
Vaccine preventable diseases will begin to spread if people stop getting immunized. In the past century, there have been improvements in increasing life expectancy in developed countries through improved nutrition, sanitation, reduced smoking rates and other factors. These same factors can NOT significantly reduce the transmission of vaccine preventable diseases. Immunization is the only way to protect ourselves and others against these diseases.
For more information on vaccines in Ontario, please see the 2014 report: Vaccines: The Best Medicine
This section of the HealthSTATS website has information on