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Are You Up To Date With Your Immunizations? Here’s What You Should Get and When

Nobody likes getting a needle, and once you’ve had your childhood immunizations, it’s tempting never to get another jab.

But immunization provides the most effective protection against vaccine-preventable disease – and as the recent mumps outbreak in the NHL has shown, it’s important for everyone (even Sidney Crosby!) to ensure that their immunizations are up to date.

Some vaccinations are given based on age. Other vaccinations are triggered by events – for example, if you cut yourself while working outside, you’ll need a tetanus booster, or if you’re heading for a tropical vacation, you might choose to be inoculated against traveller’s diarrhea. What follows is a guideline to the vaccinations that you and your family need to stay healthy at any age.

It is recommended young children in Nova Scotia receive free, publicly funded vaccinations at regular intervals to protect them, their siblings, playmates and future classmates against a variety of diseases. Diseases such as whooping cough (pertussis), measles and chicken pox (varicella) can make unvaccinated children very sick as well as cause spread to other children who haven’t been vaccinated.

Two months:
• DTaP-IPV-Hib (diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine)
• Pneumo Conj. (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
Four months:
• DTaP-IPV-Hib (diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine)
• Pneumo Conj. (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
Six months:
• DTaP-IPV-Hib (diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine)
Twelve months:
• Pneumo Conj. (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
• Men C Conj (Meningococcal group C conjugate vaccine)
• MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine)
Eighteen months:
• DTaP-IPV-Hib (diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine)
Four to six years:
• MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine)
• Tdap-IPV (tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and polio vaccine)

All Grade 7 students in Nova Scotia should receive the following free, publicly funded immunizations:
• HB (hepatitis B) – two doses
• Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough)
• Meningococcal Quadrivalent (meningococcal group A, C, Y and W 135)

Grade 7 girls and boys also receive two doses of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine.

The Nova Scotia government recommends that adults up to the age of 64 receive the following free, publicly funded immunizations:

• Seasonal flu (influenza vaccine, every flu season; learn more about influenza immunizations)
• Td (tetanus and diphtheria, every 10 years; one dose should include an inoculation against whooping cough, especially for adults who spent time with infants)
• Pneumococcal polysaccharide
• MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)

Adults over the age of 65 need to be current on all of the above except the MMR vaccine, which is only required for people born in 1970 or later.

Related: Why It’s Important For Moms-To-Be To Get The Flu Shot

Different immunizations are recommended depending on your age, immunization history and general health, as well as your destination(s) and planned activities. Different countries may also have specific immunization requirements for visitors.

(Read about the routine, required and recommended vaccinations for travellers.)

Common immunizations for travellers include hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera and travellers’ diarrhea, and rabies. Consult your family doctor about the immunizations you’ll need as soon as you know that you’re taking the trip, preferably at least four to six weeks before you depart.

Keep a record
It’s important to keep a record of your immunizations; store it with your other health records and ensure that it’s updated every time you receive an immunization. Your doctor or local public health office may provide you with an immunization card, or you can download the Adult Immunization Booklet, which includes a section where you can record your immunizations.

If you’d rather not have another piece of paper to track, consider downloading the ImmunizeCA app, developed by Immunize Canada. This app allows you to use your mobile phone to easily record and store information about immunizations you’ve received, access immunization schedules, and find information about recommended immunizations and outbreaks in your area.

Stay current, stay healthy
Staying up to date on your immunizations is the best way to insure that you are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases, and helps protect your family and friends, too. If you have questions about your immunization history, contact your family doctor.

For more information
A Closer Look at Vaccines – Are They Really Safe? [INFOGRAPHIC]
The benefits of immunization
Canadian Immunization Guide from the Public Health Agency of Canada
Information about immunizations in Nova Scotia