OMA and Algoma Public Health stress the importance of childhood vaccinations

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The Ontario Medical Association and Algoma Public Health underscored the importance of being immunized at an event this morning.

The World Health Organization calls vaccine hesitancy one of the top ten threats to health across the globe. World-wide, there is growing concern about the increasing number of parents who are unsure about the safety of childhood vaccinations.

“On behalf of Ontario’s 31,500 practicing doctors I want to say that vaccines work, vaccines are safe, vaccines are vital to the health and wellbeing of us all, and parents should not be swayed by any information they hear to the contrary,” says Dr. Sohail Gandhi, President, Ontario Medical Association.

Vaccination is one of the most successful public health interventions in history. It has led to the elimination and control of dangerous and infectious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, measles, and pertussis (whooping cough). Not so many years ago, these diseases caused many Canadian children to become severely ill or die.

Measles, for example, can cause pneumonia, encephalopathy (brain inflammation), and/or serious problems even years after the initial infection. Children are more vulnerable and can become very sick very quickly, sometimes within hours of becoming infected. Measles spreads aggressively to people who are not vaccinated.

“The Algoma region has a very good vaccination rate,” says Dr. Marlene Spruyt, Medical Officer of Health, Algoma Public Health. “We are concerned that the increasing hesitancy about vaccines being expressed online and based on misinformation may alter the behaviour of our population.”

Parents want to make the best decisions for their children – but 63% of parents in Canada admit to looking for immunization information on the Internet, and half of these just do a random Google search. This is very concerning because many of the claims circulating about vaccination on websites and social networks is inaccurate or negative.

That’s why the OMA has launched a multi-channel public relations, social media and advocacy campaign to target the spread of anti-vaccine myths using the hashtag AskOntarioDoctors. For more information about the campaign or to listen to the podcast or view the fact sheet visit askontariodoctors.ca.