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You know the time of year. The leaves are falling and all of the sudden Halloween is around the corner. The change of season brings other things, too. For one, flu activity starts to increase over the fall before peaking in the winter months.
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The Canadian Cancer Society is urging Canadians to get their children vaccinated against HPV -- a safe and effective way to prevent the cancer-causing infection. Despite many studies showing that the vaccine is safe and effective, a number of myths persist about HPV
Only two provinces require vaccines for school entry.
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The climate phenomenon has left us with not only a trail of destruction so vast that more than one million children will need treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year, but also a taste of what could be to come with its stormy sister, La Niña.
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Annie Mae Braiden says her 10-week-old daughter has been in the pediatric intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital for more than a month after contracting the disease.
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I became a father in 2013, four months after leaving Pakistan where I was working with UNICEF to support the polio eradication program. As the two remaining polio-endemic countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the final pieces of the eradication puzzle.
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Researchers have known the immune system plays a role in fighting the virus and other parts of the body do change. But a detailed account of what happens at the site of battle has been for the most part a mystery. Now an international team of researchers have given us a glimpse into the war happening inside.
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In 2010, there were 139,300 deaths worldwide due to measles, a disease that we had hoped to completely eradicate by 2020. One reason for this is that some prejudices that originally circulated in 1887 -- like that measles is a benign, inconsequential disease -- have survived over the ages. Another reason is that an unfortunately growing part of the population believes that vaccination may be more dangerous than the disease itself.
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Over the past 15 years, Tanzania has made a concerted effort to immunize its children -- and has achieved a remarkable vaccination rate of almost 90 per cent. That's not good enough for the government and health organizations, though. They want to get as close to 100 per cent as possible. But figuring out which children have been missed is a huge challenge in a country where many families still live nomadic lives in remote areas. Enter Seattle health organization PATH and Canada's own Mohawk College, in Hamilton, Ont. They're helping out, not with more vaccines or nurses, but a database.
Debunking myths about the "vaccine alternatives."
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The problem is "vaccine hesitancy." Canadian parents read stories in newspapers and online that allege problems like allergic reactions with vaccines, and hold off getting their children immunized.
To the healthy individual, the term "flu season" may sound abstract, perhaps irrelevant. But the flu, or influenza, kills about 3,500 Canadians every year and causes about 12,200 of us to be hospitalized due to the illness itself or related complications.
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Emily was two and a half years old. She was a beautiful blonde toddler with a shy and quiet nature. For most of her life we lived in Niger. I always thought (and I still do) that it was a wonderful place for our children to grow up. I look back on the nine years we spent in Niger as among the happiest years of my life. I vividly remember the afternoon we spent relaxing at the pool of the old French club. Emily was full of life -- jumping and splashing in the pool with all the others. We went to church on the Sunday evening in a nearby village the night before she died.
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The Alberta Health Services report notes that 101 people died in the province last year of flu-related causes, including 86 in hospitals.
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Today there is a six-year-old boy lying in a London, Ontario hospital fighting for his life. He is in critical condition with a vaccine-preventable illness, tetanus. Most North American's have never known a person who has suffered from this life-threatening disease, and it isn't on most people's radars. Rare, yes. But REAL.
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As someone who has had both leukemia and measles as an indirect result of chemotherapy, I'm a firm believer in Western medicine (though I do enjoy organic kale juice from time to time). Watching the vaccination furor from afar, I've been thinking about the connection between this debate and the two First Nations girls from Ontario who opted to have "natural" therapies to treat their Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia instead of proven chemotherapies.
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Last week in Berlin more than 15 countries pledged over US$7.5 billion to buy vaccines for the children of the world's poorest countries for the next five years. While this is great news for the millions of children living in the 73 countries supported by Gavi, there were other big winners: the pharmaceutical companies that benefit from the soaring vaccine prices they charge for vaccines worldwide.
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When a parent elects to withhold vaccinations from his or her child without a valid medical reason, it puts my child in harm's way. A recent rash of measles outbreaks across Canada has many anti-vaxxers questioning their decision and opting to keep little Suzy or Johnnie sequestered. In March, we saw over 320 cases in British Columbia. Ontario residents are similarly concerned after several reported cases of measles made the news, putting people at risk all across the region, extending from Hamilton, Waterdown, Burlington and Mississauga.
We wait until newborns are two months old before giving them their first shots. Some people have underlying medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated. And in rare instances a vaccination just might not be effective in any given individual. So those of us who can vaccinate our children really should.
The CDC's decision to play up flu deaths dates back a decade, when it realized the public wasn't following its advice on the flu vaccine. During the 2003 flu season "the manufacturers were telling us that they weren't receiving a lot of orders for vaccine,"Dr. Glen Nowak, associate director for communications at CDC's National Immunization Program, told National Public Radio.
Those who question vaccination programs are kooks or quacks, the press repeatedly tells us. The Globe and Mail, CBS News, Mother Jones and even scientific journals like Nature label skeptics as "vaccination deniers," much as global warming skeptics are called "deniers." This wholesale demeaning of vaccine skeptics defies explanation. Granted, kooks and quacks exist in the vaccination field, just as they exist elsewhere. But why taint the skeptics as a whole, and fail to respectfully report dissenting views?