Dr. Ashna Bowry in her office.
As summer winds down and children are getting ready to go back to school, doctors are asking parents not to forget about updating their kids’ yellow immunization card.
Measles, chicken pox, mumps and whooping cough outbreaks have been reported in North America in recent years, but these are all infectious diseases that can be prevented with vaccines.
Getting your child vaccinated can also help provide herd immunity for the whole community, said Dr. Ashna Bowry, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital.
“If you’re protected, you’re unlikely to pass something on to a person who’s unprotected,” said Dr. Bowry.
Dr. Bowry said parents making a trip to the doctor to get their kids vaccinated can also take the opportunity to book them an annual health review.
“The start of the school year is a good opportunity for doctors to review the children’s developmental milestones, any behavioural concerns and monitor their growth,” she said.
Here’s a list of the vaccines required for Ontario schoolchildren:
- Children four to six years old should get booster shots for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox
- In Grade 7, students require the meningococcal-ACYW vaccine and Hepatitis B.
- Although not mandatory, girls in Grade 8 and in high school are advised to get the HPV vaccine.
- Students 14-16 years old require a second round of booster shots for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.
Dealing with the fear of needles
Getting vaccinated doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Dr. Bowry stresses the importance of properly preparing children before they get their shots.
“You can prepare them for the vaccine and tell them it might hurt a little bit, but that it won’t be as bad as they think,” she said.
She said distracting the child can help with the process. She’ll do anything from having the children sing a song and tap their feet, to have them talk about the pictures and drawings she keeps on the walls of her office.
If that doesn’t work, Dr. Bowry said she’ll apply topical numbing agents to make the injection less painful.
“Reducing pain and improving the environment in which the vaccine is given really makes a big different and does help increase vaccination rates,” she said.
So for families making a trip to the doctor, remember that removing the fear of needles helps your child and helps prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases.
About St. Michael’s Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.