Are Your Vaccinations Up to Date?

Know where to go for your vaccinations


Staying up to date and protected against contagious diseases is important for the whole family. A recent survey suggests that the vast majority of Canadian adults respect the need to have their children vaccinated on time and according to schedule. (See following page for the Québec Immunization Program schedules.)

Unfortunately, one in four (27 per cent) adults surveyed say keeping up to date on adult vaccinations simply isn’t a priority.1 And about 50 per cent consider updating their own vaccine status less important than making sure their children have the vaccinations they need. That inaction can leave the “grown‐ups” (and adolescents) at risk for some serious preventable illnesses, as well as interfere with the “herd” immunity of the family and community.2 Don’t be a weak link in the chain of vaccine protection that helps keep your family healthy.

Preparing for the teen years
HPV vaccines are recommended in the 4th year of primary school to protect against HPV 16 and 18, which are responsible for most HPV-related cancers, such as cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus and throat, as well as genital or anal warts. People being vaccinated before age 18 require two doses over a 6-month period; those over age 18 will require 3 doses. These vaccines provide protection against HPV infections, precancerous lesions and warts for at least 12 years.

Additionally, teens in their 3rd year of high school receive booster shots for tet anus - diphtheria (td) and Meningococcal C — which can cause meningitis, an infection of the brain lining, and meningococcemia, an infection of the blood.3

Vaccine-preventable diseases can result in birth defects, premature birth, miscarriage and even death. In particular, vaccination to protect you and your baby from pertussis (whooping cough) is recommended during every pregnancy (ideally between weeks 26 and 32). The antibodies you generate are transferred to your baby and provide immune protection during their first months of life, until they receive their own vaccination at 2 months of age. This is important because vaccination during pregnancy protects against 90 to 95 per cent of hospitalizations and deaths from pertussis in children under 3 months of age.4

And a shot to protect against influenza is important for pregnant women — who are at high risk of flu-related complications — and also recommended for all Canadians over 6 months of age every fall.2 Several different flu vaccines are available, including a high‐ dose inactivated vaccine developed specifically to boost immunity in adults age 65 and over.5

Immunization schedule for infants and children

Protection as we age
There are several factors that increase risk for communicable illnesses — one is aging, which naturally weakens our immune protection.2 A few booster shots can help restore the immunity provided by the routine vaccinations you received as a child.

For instance, every 10 years — and specifically at age 50 in Quebec — all adults should be vaccinated against tetanus and diphtheria (given as one shot).3 These are preventable diseases that can have serious consequences. Other diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (German measles) and varicella (chickenpox) can also affect adults who have not had these in the past, or been vaccinated.2

At age 65 and over, a routine vaccination is recommended to protect against pneumococcal disease, with an additional dose for people who are immunosuppressed or have some chronic illnesses, e.g. human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).3 Caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia (or pneumococcus), this common infection is easily spread, resulting in ear and sinus infections, pneumonia or sepsis (infections in the blood stream). Infections may be mild or very serious, especially in children under 5 years of age, and in older people with medical conditions.6

Travelling this winter?
Discuss your destination and planned activities with your vaccination clinic or physician — you could be at risk for a disease not common in Canada such as yellow fever, rabies, or Japanese encephalitis.

If not for yourself, do it for the people around you! Keeping your vaccinations up to date helps protect those who may be at increased risk for preventable diseases — such as babies too young to be vaccinated, people who can’t be vaccinated due to medical reasons, people who are receiving chemotherapy, and the elderly.2

Talk to your healthcare provider or immunization clinic about what immunizations you may need, and bring your immunization record with you. Your vaccination record will also be updated in the Quebec Vaccination Registry.

To find the vaccinating clinic closest to you along with reliable immunization information, visit


  1. Ipsos survey, commissioned by GSK, 2019
  2. Not just for kids: An adult guide to vaccination.‐health/services/publications/healthy-living/just-kids-adult-guide-vaccination
  3. Quebec Immunization Schedule.
  4. Whooping cough.
  5. Influenza: P_QA_2018‐19.pdf
  6. Pneumococcal disease.


Fall 2019, Vol 11 N°4

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