Start of school prompts immunization reminder

By Geoff Smith
August 30, 2016 - 5:00pm

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer believes it’s only a small minority of parents who are uncertain about vaccination.

Health officials with the province are seeing more cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, recently. And with kids headed back to school, Dr. Saqib Shahab is interested in making sure all immunizations are up to date.

“What we can see from our data and from public health nurses is that most parents actually, 95 per cent, are interested in getting vaccinated but just aren’t managing to keep those appointments on time,” Shahab said.

He added most of them can be reached through alternate methods like drop-in clinics and longer hours.

“But obviously there’s about five per cent of parents who have questions about the value of immunizations,” he said. “And that’s where we really encourage (you to) talk to your physician, talk to your public health nurse, or call in to public health and have a discussion, really discuss your concerns and issues. Usually we found that after the discussion, most parents will actually agree to bring the child in.”

Shahab said one issue they have is when parents mean well, but struggle to keep up with the pertussis vaccination schedule. It requires shots at two, four, and six months of age, then at 18 months, four years, and in Grade 8.

“Only 75 per cent get the full five doses by Grade 1. And similarly only 75 per cent get the full six doses by the time they’re finished school. So the challenge is not just starting all those immunizations but finishing all those appointments on time,” Shahab said.

He said awareness campaigns can produce real results, though. When measles began cropping up in clusters in 2013, health officials worked to ensure kids in school as well as adults had received their two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. Those two doses are good for life. Since that campaign, Shahab said there have been no measles cases.

Scheduled immunizations are available at no charge for infants and preschool aged children at public health clinics. Kids in school can be vaccinated there, and Shahab encourages parents to ensure their permission slips are properly completed and returned.

 

Geoff Smith is battlefordsNOW's News Director, business and agriculture reporter. He can be reached at [email protected] or tweet him @smithco.

 

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