Immunizations the best path to immunity

Lisa Goudy
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The more people get immunized, the better off everyone is.

Leisa Vaessen, a registered nurse with the Five Hills Health Region, talks about the benefits of immunization at the Moose Jaw Public Library recently.

 “It is the most effective medical intervention. It prevents more illness than any other medical intervention throughout your lifetime. It prevents hospitalization. It prevents death,” said Leisa Vaessen, a registered nurse with the Five Hills Health Region (FHHR) after a recent presentation on the benefits of immunization at the Moose Jaw Public Library.

“We can always improve our immunizations rates. We want everyone immunized.”

She said vaccines are safe and important for everyone to receive.

For instance, measles — a vaccine-preventable disease — kills approximately 158,000 children per year around the world and 430 die from measles-related complications every day.

“If you have only one dose of measles vaccine, you have about an 85 per cent chance of being immune to measles. If you put in a second dose, anywhere from two months to however many years after, you have virtually 100 per cent chance of being immune to measles. It’s a very good vaccine,” she said.

“It’s really sad that hundreds of thousands of people get measles every year in the world when two doses of vaccine can prevent that.”

The first dose of measles vaccine given at 12 or 15 months of age has the 85 per cent immunity rate and then a second dose can be administered at 18 months or anytime after that for the 100 per cent immunity rate.

While the most at-risk groups are children, seniors and immunocompromised people, it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated, she said.

“One thing that people forget about is to have a regular tetanus shot every 10 years as an adult and there are always things that we need to be immunized for as well,” said Vaessen. “There are vaccines for all age groups.”

Some of those vaccines important for everyone include the annual flu shot, shingles and the pneumococcal vaccine for seniors and those medically at-risk or with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or if someone has their spleen removed.

“Very healthy people can still succumb to a vaccine-preventable disease and we don’t want to spread it around to the rest of our community either,” said Vaessen.

Prior to travelling, it’s important to check with health care providers about required immunizations such as Hepatitis A and B, malaria, typhoid, chicken pox, polio and MMR.

She emphasized how important it is to follow the schedule set out by health care providers for immunizations. Those schedules are based on scientific evidence and provide the most protection if they are followed. Those schedules start at age two months.

Immunizing babies is a “very important” step to take, said Vaessen.

“Babies are the most at-risk for disease and so we want to protect them as early as possible. There are things that we do to protect babies before they can get immunized,” said Vaessen.

“An important thing to do is breastfeed your baby. Another thing to prevent, for example whooping cough or pertussis infection, they’ve been doing something called cocooning or immunizing family members around the baby against pertussis so that they don’t spread the pertussis to the baby.”

For information on immunizations, contact public health at (306) 691-1500.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Public Library

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