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April 26, 2011
Immunization protects everyone
During National Immunization Awareness Week (April 23-30), Toronto Public Health (TPH) is encouraging residents to ensure their immunization records are up to date. Parents are also being reminded to check their children's yellow immunization cards and see their health care provider to get any missing vaccinations.

Immunization plays an important role in preventing illness and saving lives. A century ago, many children died before their fifth birthday from diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and measles. Thanks to immunization, many of these once common illnesses are now rare.

“Immunization works best when everyone is immunized, which makes it more difficult for diseases to spread from person to person,” said Dr. Michael Finkelstein, Associate Medical Officer of Health for TPH.

To protect children against catching and spreading potentially life threatening diseases, Ontario law requires that children have up-to-date immunization records. Students in elementary grades need vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. High school students need a booster vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis between 14 to 16 years of age.

Each year, TPH assesses immunization records for approximately 350,000 students. TPH also provides "catch up" clinics for students who are at risk of school suspension due to an incomplete immunization record. Vaccines for hepatitis B, meningoccal disease and the Human Papillomavirus (for girls) are offered to students in Grades 7 and 8. These vaccines are voluntary.

Toronto's coverage rate for mandatory vaccinations among school age children is 96.1 per cent, close to the national target of 99 per cent.

Under-immunized adults are also at risk of contracting disease or infecting others. Adults should receive booster shots for diseases listed here:

Adults whose immunization schedule is up to date may require vaccines before travelling outside Canada. Diseases rarely found in Canada are common in other parts of the world. Adults should speak to their health care provider about immunizations for travel and plan to get their vaccination six to eight weeks before travelling to allow time for the vaccines to take effect.

More information is also available at or by calling 416-338-7600.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media contact:
Rishma Govani,
Toronto Public Health,



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