Frequently asked questions
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Vaccines in Canada are safe and effective. They meet the highest standards and are monitored for safety and effectiveness in Canada and around the world before being approved for use. Like any medical procedure, immunization has some risks. Individuals may react differently to vaccines. When considering immunization, both the risks and benefits should be discussed with a qualified health care provider. The risk of the disease is much greater and more severe than the risk of experiencing a reaction after immunization.
All the components of vaccines have important roles to play to make sure the vaccine is effective and safe. The main component of vaccines are antigens which are dead, weakened or synthesized versions of the disease causing virus or bacteria. Vaccines contain small amounts of other ingredients, such as formaldehyde, gelatin or aluminum, most of which are found naturally in our body, food, or nature. The ingredients found in vaccines help the body’s immune system respond better to the vaccine or are additives and preservatives that maintain the quality and effectiveness of the vaccine.
No, vaccines make the immune system stronger by providing protection against diseases. Our immune system is designed to fight off the millions of germs and antigens it encounters everyday. Vaccines only contain a fraction of the antigens and germs that our bodies are exposed to each day and are a more safe and effective way to develop protection against diseases caused by these germs. Many studies have confirmed that giving a child several routine immunizations at one appointment does not increase the risk of a reaction to the vaccines. Combination vaccines (vaccines that contain more than one vaccine in a single shot) are safe and provide the same protection as vaccines given individually, but with fewer shots.
You cannot get the disease from the vaccine. Most vaccines do not contain live virus, and those vaccines that do, cannot make you sick with the disease. Vaccines that have live viruses are greatly weakened to the point that the virus is enough to trigger an immune response. You may feel unwell and experience mild fever, fatigue, or muscle aches after receiving a vaccine but this is a normal reaction that shows your body is creating an immune response.
Just like any medication, vaccines may cause a reaction in some people. These reactions are usually mild and resolve in a few days. Severe reactions, such as an allergic response, are rare. If you or your child has had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine, seek urgent emergency treatment.
No, vaccines do not cause autism. Research has found no links between vaccination and autism. Research shows that unvaccinated children are just as likely to develop autism as vaccinated children. Much of the controversy suggesting a link between autism and vaccination was due to a single study published in 1998. This research was discredited, and the study has since been withdrawn from the journal that published it.
Most vaccines are administered by injection, except for the rotavirus vaccine and 1 type of flu vaccine. The use of needles can cause stress and anxiety for some people. Below are some tips you can use to reduce the stress, anxiety and discomfort associated with getting vaccines:
- Tell your health care provider that you are anxious about getting poked by a needle.
- Sit upright. This will help to promote a sense of control.
- If you have a history of fainting when getting vaccines, make sure to tell your health care provider. Lying down could be offered as one option to reduce the risks associated with fainting.
- Take deeps breaths. This well help calm you down.
- Relax your arm. It may help to dangle your arm beside you to ensure the muscle is relaxed.
- Distract yourself to take your attention away from the injection. Listen to music, watch videos, read, or talk to your health care provider or someone else.
- You can buy topical anesthetics that can help reduce immunization pain at a pharmacy without prescription. These will need to be applied before your appointment.
There is no benefit to taking over-the-counter pain medication before your appointment. If you do have pain after the vaccination, you can take pain medication such as Acetaminophen to help decrease pain, muscle aches, or fever.
For most vaccines, it is never too late to catch up. Your health care provider will recommend a new schedule to ensure your child is caught up as soon as possible.
No, if your child missed a dose of vaccine, they do not need to start the whole series over again. Your healthcare provider will create a new schedule. However, it is best to follow the recommended schedule as closely as possible. This ensures your child has optimal protection.
The Tdap vaccine protects against pertussis disease, also known as whooping cough. Pertussis is highly contagious and can be deadly for babies. Babies cannot receive their first pertussis vaccine until 2 months of age. Getting the Tdap vaccination with every pregnancy is important because it provides protection to your newborn before they can receive the pertussis vaccine. Once you are vaccinated, your body develops antibodies to protect against pertussis. These antibodies cross the placenta to provide the same protection in your newborn. It is recommended that you receive this vaccine between 27 and 32 weeks with every pregnancy.
The recommended vaccines depend on several factors such as your travel destination, what you plan on doing while you are there, the time of year you are travelling, your current health status and your age. You will need to contact your healthcare provider 8 to 12 weeks before you travel to find out which vaccines are recommended for your travel destination and where to receive these in the Yukon. As part of this consultation, they will also check that your childhood vaccines are up to date.
Vaccine providers should refer to the Yukon Immunization Manual – Section 13 – Adverse Events Following Immunization for criteria on reporting adverse events following immunization (AEFI), or contact the Yukon Immunization Program by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The vaccines cannot cause COVID-19 because they do not contain the virus that causes infection. mRNA vaccines do not contain the live virus to trigger an immune response, rather they teach your cells how to make antibodies that help fight off the real virus.
Vaccines cannot change your DNA. The mRNA vaccines cannot alter genetic material, as their role is to teach the body to make an immune response against the COVID-19 pathogen. The mRNA cannot enter the nucleus where DNA is stored and protected. Once the cell receives instructions from the mRNA to provoke an immune response, the mRNA is destroyed.
Vaccines are rigorously tested and reviewed by Health Canada before they are approved for use. mRNA vaccines have been studied for years and could be developed faster because they were made in lab using materials that are easily available. Most adverse reactions to vaccines emerge within 6 weeks of immunization which is why vaccine manufacturers are required to produce 8 weeks of safety data. The Yukon places high priority on vaccine safety therefore continues to closely monitor any vaccine side effects.