Health officials are encouraging Saskatchewan residents to get immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly in light of recent measles outbreaks in Canada. National Immunization Awareness Week is April 26 – May 3.
“This awareness week gives us an opportunity to remind our residents about the importance of immunization,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “We want to ensure that people stay healthy and safe.”
“We strongly encourage parents to make sure their children’s immunizations are up-to-date,” Saskatchewan’s Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Denise Werker said. “Immunization is the most effective way to protect your family and yourself against flu, measles, and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Saskatchewan offers publicly-funded routine immunization programs for infants, pre-school and school children. Publicly-funded vaccine programs for people at high risk are also available. Since 2010, the province has been offering flu shots free of charge to Saskatchewan residents six months and older.
“The recent measles outbreaks in Canada and other countries underscore the importance of being immunized,” Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region Deputy Medical Health Officer Dr. Maurice Hennink said. “Travellers can unknowingly bring measles into the country if they are not vaccinated. Such diseases can spread quickly, particularly in public places, if individuals are not protected by immunization.”
All pre-school children in Saskatchewan receive the publicly-funded measles vaccine as a series of two doses, usually given at 12 and 18 months. People born after 1970 are also eligible to receive a free measles vaccine.
Measles vaccination is particularly recommended for:
• people who have recently arrived in Canada and do not have a history of receiving two doses of a measles-containing vaccine;
• people who are planning to travel overseas, particularly to countries with measles outbreaks;
• health care providers; and
• staff and students at daycare or education institutions.
More information on measles and the provincial immunization programs is available through HealthLine 811, or online at www.saskatchewan.ca.