Vaccines play a critical role in protecting us from preventable diseases. But not all vaccinations are a one-shot deal; many must follow a vaccine schedule and require multiple doses at specific ages and stages of life.
The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness is always updating vaccine schedules to ensure Nova Scotians get the most effective protection. It’s just made two changes following recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
- Pregnant woman should receive the Tdap vaccine in every pregnancy.
- Adults 65 and older living in long-term care facilities should receive the Fluzone High Dose vaccine each year.
Tdap Vaccine for all Pregnant Women
The Tdap vaccine offers protection from three potentially life-threatening diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). The new changes recommend that women should get this vaccine with every pregnancy, regardless of whether they have received the vaccine before.
Expectant moms are not only protecting themselves, they’re also passing on early protection to their newborn babies. That’s important because babies in Nova Scotia only receive their first their first tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis-containing vaccine at two months old. Now, babies will get the protection they need while in their mother’s womb, addressing this previous gap in coverage.
Pregnant women should also get an annual flu shot. It’s another three-for-one shot that protects moms, fetuses, and newborns for up to half a year. If you are expecting or planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor about your vaccination record and other safe vaccines for pregnant women.
Flu Vaccine for Long-Term Care Facility Residents
While all adults in Nova Scotia should get their annual flu shot, the regular vaccine may not be strong enough to fully protect seniors in long-term care settings.
Older Canadians living in long-term care facilities are more vulnerable to the flu because they are frailer, have more chronic diseases, and have more exposures to the virus because they live in a group setting. As we age, our ability to create antibodies also weakens, which reduces the effectiveness of the flu shot.
The Fluzone High Dose vaccine is now available for free to all seniors living in long-term care facilities in the province. With four times as much flu virus antigen (the part that stimulates the immune system) as the standard flu vaccine, Fluzone offers seniors more protection. People aged 65 and older have a higher risk of developing complications from the flu, making it crucial to better protect this vulnerable group.
Vaccines are always being tested and evaluated. Nova Scotia is home to the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (CCfV), which conducts studies year-round on a number of vaccines, including the seasonal flu and Tdap vaccines. Visit its website to learn more about its work and to participate in upcoming studies.