Why should I get

Vaccines are the best protection against severe and even deadly diseases.


In the past 50 years, vaccines have saved more lives than any other medical intervention in Canada. Before the introduction of the polio vaccine in 1955, thousands of Canadians were paralyzed or died from polio. Thanks to immunization, Canada has been polio-free for the last 20 years.


Immunization programs in Canada have been very successful in decreasing the rates of vaccine preventable diseases. These diseases are at risk of returning if immunization rates drop because the germs that cause these diseases still exist. Many jurisdictions in Canada still experience outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases, including a pertussis outbreak in the Yukon during the summer of 2012.



Many of the diseases that are rarely seen in Canada are still quite common in other countries. Without protection from vaccines, these diseases would spread quickly, and outbreaks would occur. The best way to reduce these vaccine-preventable diseases is to have a highly immune population.

Vaccine vs. immunization


Vaccination and immunization are similar terms but have different meanings. Vaccination describes a specific action whereas immunization describes the process. The CDC defines the two as follows:


  • Vaccination: The act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.


  • Immunization: A process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination. This term is often used interchangeably with vaccination or inoculation.


No, vaccination is the safest way to develop immunity because it prevents the disease, many of which have no cure. Natural active immunity occurs when you are infected by the disease; making you sick before your body can develop an immune response. These diseases can cause serious health issues that can have long lasting effects.

Benefits to yourself and your community


Protect yourself


Vaccines give you immunity to a disease without making you sick first. 


Immunization works by strengthening your immune system against a specific disease.

  • First, your immune system must recognize the disease before fighting it off. Vaccines safely allow the immune system time to develop antibodies against the dead or weakened disease-causing virus or bacteria before being exposed to the disease itself.
  • If you are ever exposed to the same type of disease in the future, your immune system will remember and can quickly destroy it before it has a chance to make you sick. This is how you get immunity from vaccines.


Protect your community


Vaccines do not just protect the people getting vaccinated, they protect everyone around them too.


When you get immunized, you are also helping to build your community’s defence against diseases. Higher rates of people immunized in a community provides less opportunity for the disease to spread. If a person infected with a disease comes in contact only with people who are immune (through vaccination), the disease won’t be able to spread. This helps achieve what is called “herd immunity”.  


Herd immunity is important for the overall health of our community, and particularly to provide protection for vulnerable people who cannot be immunized themselves.

Those most at risk include:

  • babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated;
  • people who cannot receive certain vaccines for medical reasons, such as treatment for cancer; and
  • people who may not adequately respond to the immunization, such as elders with poor immune systems

Risks of not getting vaccinated


Immunization is the safest way to protect yourself because it prevents infection from the disease before you are ever exposed. If you choose not to vaccinate your child, or to delay vaccines, there can be risks. Many of the diseases have no treatment or cure, and vaccines are the only protection. The diseases prevented by vaccines can cause serious illness, long-term disability and even death. To learn more about specific side effects of vaccines, visit our vaccines and disease page.

It is important that all parents who choose not to vaccinate understand how to minimize the risk of their child getting a vaccine preventable disease and spreading it to others. Any unvaccinated child is at risk of getting a vaccine preventable disease even if you minimize contact with people who are ill.

  • An unvaccinated child can get measles simply by breathing the air in a room where someone with measles has been.
  • Tetanus is caused by a bacteria found in dirt, dust, and soil. It doesn’t spread between people but enters through a cut or scrape after contact with dirt, dust, or soil containing the bacteria.
  • Many people who are infected don’t show symptoms but may still infect your child. It’s impossible to tell who is contagious.


Find out how to get immunized