two, four and six months of age
use less than .01 per cent of an
infant’s immune response.
Making informed choices
People generally trust the care
and medication they receive when
being treated for cancer and other
illnesses. Yet, they don’t always trust
vaccines, and can take a dim view
of them based on information from
unscientific websites or celebrity
In the absence of a threat from
infectious diseases, some people can
see a threat from the vaccine instead.
“We have been so successful
fighting diseases with immunization
that we now have to convince people
there can be a problem,” Talbot says.
But people born before the 1960s
can often recall those problems.
“I remember my cousin clanking
around the bases in Little League
Baseball because of the braces he was
wearing for polio,” Talbot says.
Many younger parents tend
to hesitate when considering
immunization, says Dr. Cora
Constantinescu, a Calgary
pediatrician with a background in
infectious diseases. “Trust is key,”
she says. “There are all kinds of
views about vaccination out there.”
You can find proven scientific
information about immunization
from Alberta Health Services, Health
Canada, the Centres for Disease
Control and the World Health
All will point out that not being
vaccinated has its risks. In every
instance, the risks from getting
the disease are much greater than
the risk of reacting to a vaccine.
An Alberta baby died in 2012 from
pertussis after being infected by an
unimmunized adult. Earlier this year,
measles outbreaks were declared
in Edmonton, Calgary and central
Alberta. In 2013, more than 40 cases
were reported in Southern Alberta.
One in three people who get the
measles have complications such
as diarrhea, ear infections (which
can cause permanent hearing loss),
pneumonia, inflammation of the
brain and seizures.
Of course, parents want to keep
their kids safe, says Dr. Gerry Predy,
the senior medical officer of health
for Alberta Health Services. That’s
also the aim of immunization.
“We are giving vaccines to healthy
kids, and their parents, rightly so,
are very careful,” he says. “We want
to stress to parents the rarity of side
Wearing the armour
It’s worth repeating that
immunization is one of the most
important advances in public
health. Health Canada estimates
immunization has saved more lives
in Canada over the past 50 years than
any other health measure. Before
vaccines were available, thousands
of Canadian children died or were
disabled every year from diseases
such as diphtheria, measles and polio.
These diseases are now preventable
by being immunized. Albertans’
health can be improved with
In the absence of a threat
from infectious diseases,
people see a threat from
the vaccine instead