The Importance of Keeping up with Routine Vaccines – for Both Children and Adults
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways. The pandemic has strained health care systems and resulted in a major decrease in childhood immunization rates worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2020 there were 23 million children younger than one year of age who did not receive basic vaccines. This is 3.4 million more than in 2019 and the highest number since 2009. These impacts
have also been seen in BC, where the BCCDC reported that the Lower Mainland saw up to a 40% decrease in the on-time administration of routine 12-month vaccines during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 compared to the previous year.
What does this mean?
Lower immunization rates result in the potential for a resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases. Diseases can be imported into a community from international travellers who acquire the disease abroad which can then be spread to unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people. If the percentage of vaccinated people drops below the herd immunity threshold, a disease can be easily spread through a community. Community immunity against measles, for example, requires about 95% of the population to be vaccinated to protect the remaining 5%.
The risk of exposure to vaccine preventable diseases increases when travelling. Of the 23 million children younger than 1 year of age who did not receive basic vaccines in 2020, 60% of these children lived in 10 countries: Brazil, Mexico, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Philippines, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ensuring your vaccines are up to date before travelling is important to prevent the importation of diseases back into our home communities.
The need for vaccination does not end after childhood, as many people may think. Protection from many vaccines received as a child can wear off over time so getting another dose (called a booster) can increase immunity to provide the best and longest lasting protection. Some people cannot get immunized, such as babies that are too young for vaccines, or people with certain medical conditions. Vaccination is the best way to protect you and those around you from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Routine vaccines that adults may need a booster for include:
- hepatitis A
- hepatitis B
- herpes zoster (shingles)
- human papillomavirus (HPV)
- pertussis (whooping cough)
- varicella (chicken pox)
How to know which boosters you need?
Book an appointment at TravelSafe Clinic for a vaccine review to determine if you need any boosters, or for a pre-travel consultation if you are planning to travel internationally. Call your nearest public health clinic to book a vaccine appointment for your child if they are due for vaccinations. Staying on schedule with vaccinations helps to keep you, your family, and your community safe and protected.