As our kids prepared to return to school—or attend
for the very first time—I’m sure we were all diligent about school supplies,
lunch containers, indoor shoes, and maybe even some new clothing. But how many
of us remembered to make sure our children were up-to-date on their
Now, I know there are moms out there who have
mixed or negative feelings about vaccines. One of my very first interviews
for This Mom Loves was with a doctor whose medical expertise I trust wholeheartedly. I asked her what
she thought, and this was her reply:
“Vaccinations are
the biggest improvement to public health after handwashing for prevention of
disease, so I’m a pro-vaccine advocate. There is evidence now that there is no
link between any vaccines and autism and the safety and efficacy data on the
vaccines that we use are excellent, so I am a great pro-vaccinator. I encourage
my parents to understand that primary prevention is your best strategy, and
this whole concept that getting a disease makes the immune system tougher—there is no science
behind that at all.”
I also have mom friend who is also a doctor, and
whose children are similar ages to mine, and I have followed her lead when it
comes to vaccinating our children—which is to say that we’ve followed  Ontario’s publicly funded immunization
schedule thoroughly.
Parents are naturally concerned about any
medication being given to their children, and the Ontario
immunization site
 says this about
vaccine safety:
“In Canada, we have very
strict controls for making vaccines. All vaccines are tested to make sure they
are both safe and effective. The most common side effects are mild pain,
swelling and redness where the injection was given.
Some infant vaccines may cause a
low-grade fever (approximately 38°C) or fussiness for a day or 2 after the
injection. Doctors may recommend acetaminophen to prevent fever and pain. Serious
side effects are rare.”
While it’s very important to keep our newborns
and babies safe from disease, school entry is another essential time to make
sure your child is protected…and will also not infect his or her classmates
(especially vulnerable children who may not be able to be vaccinated themselves
for medical reasons).
In order to attend school in
Ontario, children must be immunized against tetanus, diphtheria, polio,
measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, meningococcal disease and whooping cough
(unless they have a valid exemption). Cost is not an issue: vaccines in the
routine schedule are provided free of charge.

A piece of parenting advice,
now that my girls are 10 and 8: make sure you bring your children’s
immunization cards with you every time you go to the doctor for a vaccination.
It was current when I registered my girls for school, as I had to show proof of
their immunizations. After that when they returned for further vaccines, there
were a couple of times I didn’t have the card on me and didn’t worry about it
because I knew the doctor’s office would always have the records.
Then, when my daughters were in
school, I received notices that their immunization records weren’t up-to-date
at our local health unit (because doctor’s offices don’t update those records),
and I needed to send proof of the vaccinations to them, which I then had to get
from the doctor. Not a big deal, but a minor inconvenience that could have been
avoided if I had been diligent about bringing the immunization cards with me,
and letting the Health Unit know afterwards.
As children get older, vaccines
are also offered for meningococcal disease, Hepatitis B and human papilloma
virus (HPV). There was an expert on Your Morning this week discussing how HPV
rates have seen a huge decline over the past ten years since the introduction
of that vaccine, which is pretty amazing. Also, don’t forget there are
necessary boosters for teens and adults, too, so check out Ontario’s
Routine Immunization Schedule
 to be sure everyone in the family is fully
immunized…including the parents! 

Here you see my beautiful girls
on the first day of school: new outfits, backpacks stocked…and fully
immunized to be safe from disease. 

Disclosure: This post was developed in
association with the 
Ontario Ministry of
Health and Long-Term Care
. The
opinions are my own.

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