The approach of the school year has Fraser Health Authority urging parents to get their children vaccinated to protect them from a range of diseases.
Data released last year showed nearly one in three Abbotsford children who would be entering Grade 3 weren’t up to date on all their vaccinations.
Dr. Shovita Padhi, Fraser Health’s medical health officer for immunizations in Abbotsford, said that while vaccination rates are good for babies in the region, they drop off as children age and parents return to work.
Children between four and six years old should have up-to-date booster shots to protect against polio, tetanus, diphtheria, chicken pox and whooping cough. Vaccinations are also received in grades 6 and 9 at school, with periodic immunizations also recommended throughout adulthood.
According to last year’s data, only 71.8 per cent of Abbotsford children born in 2006 were registered as being up to date on the combined vaccine that immunizes against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, and haemophilus influenzae type b. In 2012, an outbreak of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, affected more than 100 people in the Fraser Valley, including three infants.
Around 90 per cent of Grade 3 students were recorded as being immunized for hepatitis B, measles, mumps, varicella and meningococcal C conjugate, with 94.1 per cent up to date on their rubella shot.
That data has flaws, however, and Fraser Health is conducting its own survey this year to get a better handle on the situation.
The health authority stresses the need to immunize children in order to both protect individuals and to create herd immunity, which decreases the ability of diseases to spread among populations.
Immunization appointments can also be made by calling your family physician or the local public health unit.