01/12/2016 09:25 EST | Updated 02/22/2017 03:20 EST

Four Facts About Vaccines And Your Child

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Boy and vaccine syringe

Over the course of my career as both a doctor and Medical Officer of Health, I've seen many advancements that affect the way we live our everyday lives. While our society is ever-evolving, one thing that has remained a constant is the positive impact of vaccinations and the repercussions without them.

As a medical professional, I know that vaccines are the best way to protect our children against certain diseases and that no matter how healthy they are, if they haven't been vaccinated, they don't have the antibodies to protect them from vaccine preventable diseases. It's quite simple really, and is a decision I recommend to my patients, and followed for my family.

We live in a province with a publicly funded vaccination program, however, the threat posed by vaccine preventable diseases is still with us, as we have seen in recent outbreaks of measles, mumps and pertussis (whooping cough). That's why getting vaccinated is important.

Here are some facts to keep in mind:

1. Vaccinations help to keep the community safe.

a. In order to attend school in Ontario, children need to be immunized against nine diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chicken pox), meningococcal disease and pertussis (whooping cough).

b. Making sure your child receives these vaccines will not only keep them and others in your household safe, but also protect their friends, classmates, and your community.

2. When you vaccinate your children, their bodies get stronger and more resistant to diseases.

a. Vaccines were developed to keep people healthy and safe -- they've been saving lives around the world for more than 200 years.

b. Vaccines schedules are carefully planned so kids get them when their bodies are ready and when they need them most.

3. Vaccinations can be incorporated into your overall health routine.

a. Make vaccinations part of your health conversations, don't avoid the topic.

b. Give your child enough time to be comfortable with the idea of getting a shot but not too much that they become anxious.

c. Stay calm and positive: a parent's fear can affect their child; lead by example.

d. Be honest about the experience, a shot may be uncomfortable, but only momentarily.

e. Use distraction techniques: for babies you can breastfeed; for older children books, videos and toys can work.

f. Check to make sure you are also up-to-date on your immunizations. Adults need vaccinations too!

4. Keep a record of your child's vaccinations and stay on schedule.

a. The first time your child gets a vaccination you should receive a card (sometimes called the Yellow Card) that lists the vaccines received.

b. To avoid losing the information on this card, take a photograph of it, email it to yourself, make copies and keep it in a safe place -- it's proof of immunization that is required for school entry in Ontario. Employment opportunities and travel to some countries may also require proof of immunization.

c. Bring this card to every immunization appointment so it stays up-to-date.

More information is available here.