Message from the Minister of Health: National Immunization Awareness Week
April 22 to 29, 2017
The World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save 2 to 3 million lives every year and prevent countless illnesses across the world.
Over the past 50 years, diseases that were once common in Canada have been contained, controlled and, in some cases, even eliminated. Before 1955, polio paralyzed thousands of Canadians every year; many died of the disease. Thanks to immunization, Canada has been polio-free for the last 20 years.
Vaccination remains one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. By keeping up to date with vaccines, Canadians can stay healthy and also protect vulnerable people – both young and old, in our communities. Although vaccines are safe and effective, not enough Canadians are getting vaccinated. Unfortunately, this means we still see vaccine-preventable disease in Canada, which can lead to serious illness and even death. Recent outbreaks of measles tell us we cannot afford to be complacent about vaccination.
The Government of Canada remains committed to working closely with provinces, territories, and other public health partners to improve vaccination coverage in Canada. In fact, last year, we committed $25 million to increase vaccination uptake and access in Canada. With this investment, the Public Health Agency of Canada has launched the Immunization Partnership Fund, which supports projects aimed at increasing vaccination rates. For example, the updated CANImmunize mobile app helps Canadians store and manage their families' vaccination records. We have also been working closely with the provinces and territories to update Canada’s vaccination coverage goals, and have implemented a new research program to identify under- and un-vaccinated populations in Canada.
During National Immunization Awareness Week (April 22 to 29), Canada is pleased to join the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in celebrating and promoting this incredible public health success story. This year’s theme is a “birthday celebration” as PAHO marks the 15th anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas and the 40th anniversary of its Expanded Program on Immunization.
This theme is especially timely as Canada is also celebrating a special milestone: 150 years of Confederation. As Canadians, we have a lot to be proud of, especially when it comes to our health and public health programs. This includes vaccination – one of the most important accomplishments in public health. Canadian researchers played critical roles in the development and production of many vaccines, including the polio and ebola vaccines!
All Canadians play an important role in keeping their families, communities and themselves healthy and safe by keeping their vaccinations up to date. As Canada’s Minister of Health, I urge everyone to help ensure our immunization success story continues.
The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
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