McGuinty Government's Free Childhood Immunization Program begins with pneumococcal vaccination

Archived Release

McGuinty Government's Free Childhood Immunization Program begins with pneumococcal vaccination

Ministry of Health

First Of Three New Free Child Vaccines Protects High-Risk Children Under Five TORONTO, July 2 - The pneumococcal vaccination, the first of three new free child vaccines being introduced by the McGuinty government, is now available, Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman announced today. "Our government believes we have a duty to give every child the chance at a good start in life, and the best possible health," says Smitherman. "Today marks the beginning of our plan to protect and save the lives of Ontario's children, by vaccinating them against preventable diseases." On July 1, free immunizations became available across the province for all high-risk children two years to four years of age for pneumococcal disease. This disease can cause pneumonia, meningitis and infection of the blood. High-risk children include those with a weakened immune system, heart and lung disease or diabetes. It is estimated over 10,000 children in Ontario will now be eligible to receive the free vaccine. The government is investing $156 million, over three years, to add the three new vaccinations for pneumococcal disease, chicken pox and meningitis. This plan will see 3.3 million Ontario children vaccinated without charge. The three new free immunization programs will save Ontario parents more than $600 per child. "I'm delighted we're responding quickly to parents who have been anxious to know when we would be starting our new free vaccination programs," said Dr. Sheela Basrur, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health. "Vaccinations must and will be available to all who need them." The second phase of the McGuinty government's comprehensive child immunization plan will take place in September, and the program will be fully implemented by January 1, 2005. Starting on that date, all children born in Ontario on, or after, January 1, 2004, will have access to the three new free vaccines, as part of their routine immunization. "The McGuinty government has demonstrated real leadership by adding the meningococcal and pneumococcal meningitis vaccines on the province's routine immunization schedule," said Kathryn Blain, Chair of the Meningitis Research Foundation, and a parent who lost her son to meningitis in 1995. "Ontario's move will help ensure that children no longer suffer the effects of these preventable diseases." "Our government is making Ontario a leader in preventing childhood diseases," Smitherman said. "This is another big step in our plan to rebuild and transform this province's health care system into one that protects children, helps families, and benefits all Ontarians." This news release is available on our website at: http://www.gov.on.ca/health/ Version française disponible ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Immunization: Three new vaccines added to routine childhood schedule ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This fact sheet provides basic information only. It must not take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to a healthcare professional about any health concerns you have, and before you make any changes to your diet, lifestyle or treatment. By January 1, 2005, three new publicly funded vaccines will be added to the recommended schedule of routine childhood immunizations - vaccines for chicken pox, meningococcal meningitis and pneumococcal disease. Starting in July 2004, all high-risk children under 5 years of age can receive the free pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. In addition, varicella (chicken pox) and meningococcal conjugate C vaccine will be available free for designated high-risk people of all ages starting in January 2005. Talk to your doctor or local public health unit to find out if your child is eligible. See over for more resources. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- VACCINE WHO QUALIFIES WHEN AVAILABLE DISEASES PREVENTED ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pneumococcal - High-risk children July 2004 Invasive Conjugate 24 to 59 months of pneumococcal age diseases (meningitis, - All children born January 2005 pneumonia and on or after infection of Jan. 1, 2004 bloodstream - High-risk children Available now under 2 years of age ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Varicella - All children 1 September 2004 Chicken pox and its year of age on or complications (i.e. after Sept. 1, 2004 bacterial skin infections) - Five-year-old January 2005 children who have not yet had chicken pox - High-risk people January 2005 of all ages ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Meningococcal - All children September 2004 Invasive Conjugate C 1 year of age on meningococcal or after Sept. 1, disease (IMD), 2004 including meningitis and - Children 12 years January 2005 meningococcemia of age, youth aged (meningococcal 15-19, and high- infection of the risk people of all blood). ages - People in close Available now contact with a person who has a vaccine-preventable meningococcal disease ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Find out more For information about health services and resources: www.health.gov.on.ca For consumer-friendly health tips and information: www.HealthyOntario.com INFOline: 1-877-234-4343 toll free in Ontario TTY: 1-800-387-5559 Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 TTY 1-866-797-0007 Or call your local public health unit. Version française disponible en communiquant avec le 1 877 234-4343 ATS : 1 800 387-5559 Web www.HealthyOntario.com ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pneumococcal vaccine (conjugate) for high-risk children under age 5 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This fact sheet provides basic information only. It must not take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to a healthcare professional about any health concerns you have, and before you make any changes to your diet, lifestyle or treatment. How are children protected against pneumococcal disease? Vaccines or needles are the best way to protect children against some very serious infections. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization strongly recommends routine immunization. The conjugate pneumococcal vaccine protects children under 5 years of age who are at higher risk for pneumococcal infections like pneumonia, bacteraemia (infection of the blood) and meningitis (infection of the brain). What causes pneumococcal disease? One type of bacteria, called streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus), is a common cause of invasive bacterial infection. This type of bacteria can cause any of the following: - pneumonia (lung infection) - bacteraemia (infection of the blood) - meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) Pneumococcal infection is also a frequent cause of ear infections (otitis media). Pneumonia, bacteraemia and meningitis can sometimes cause death or permanent damage, especially in people with a high-risk medical condition. Sometimes antibiotics don't work against the pneumococcal infection (this is called antibiotic resistance). When there is antibiotic resistance, it is more difficult to treat the infection. How do you get pneumococcal disease? Healthy people often have pneumococcal bacteria in their nose and throat. In most people, the bacteria will not cause serious illness. But in some children, especially those with high-risk medical conditions, the bacteria can cause disease. Why is the pneumococcal vaccine important? Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most common cause of bacterial infection in children under 2 years of age. Pneumococcal (conjugate) vaccine can prevent pneumonia, bacteraemia and meningitis caused by streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. The vaccine is recommended for high-risk children under the age of 5 years (as these children are at an increased risk for invasive pneumococcal disease). About one in four children who become ill from invasive pneumococcal disease have an underlying medical condition. Who should get the vaccine? In Ontario, the pneumococcal (conjugate) vaccine is free for children under the age of 5 years who have any of the following high-risk medical conditions: - Sickle cell disease or other sickle cell disorders - non-functioning or missing spleen - HIV infection - conditions that suppress the immune system (e.g., cancer, organ transplant, nephrotic syndrome, long-term corticosteroid use) - chronic medical conditions (e.g., chronic heart and lung disease, diabetes mellitus, cerebrospinal leak, chronic kidney disease) - before or after a cochlear implant. When should the pneumococcal vaccine be given? The conjugate vaccine series usually begins at the age of 2 months, but can be given as early as 6 weeks of age. However, the schedule used and the number of doses required (up to four doses) will depend on the child's age at the time of the first dose of pneumococcal vaccine. For more detailed information see your doctor or call your local public health unit. Are there side effects from the vaccine? Mild reactions include short-lasting soreness and redness where the needle was given. A fever of 38(degrees)C or greater may occur. Other uncommon side effects may include irritability, drowsiness, restless sleep, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, rash or hives. A small bump is sometimes felt at the site of the needle for several weeks. Severe reactions are rare. You should always discuss the benefits and risks of any vaccine with your doctor or local public health unit. When should I call my doctor? Call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency if your child has any of the following symptoms within three days of getting the needle: - hives - swelling of the face or mouth - trouble breathing - very pale colour and serious drowsiness - high fever (over 40(degrees)C or 104(degrees)F) - convulsions or seizures - other serious problems. Who should not get the vaccine? Children should not receive the vaccine if they have allergies to any component of the vaccine. Who should I talk to if I have any questions? Talk to your doctor or call your local public health unit. Your record of protection After your child receives any immunization, make sure your doctor updates their personal immunization record, such as the "Yellow Card". Keep it in a safe place! Find out more For information about health services and resources: www.health.gov.on.ca For consumer-friendly health tips and information: www.HealthyOntario.com INFOline: 1-877-234-4343 toll free in Ontario TTY: 1-800-387-5559 Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 TTY 1-866-797-0007 Version française disponible en communiquant avec le 1 877 234-4343 ATS: 1 800 387-5559 Web www.SanteOntario.com Contact Info For further information: Members of the media: Dan Strasbourg, (416) 314-6197, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; Members of the general public: (416) 327-4327, (800) 268-1154 HELP | CONTACT US | PRIVACY | IMPORTANT NOTICES © Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2008-2009 — Last Modified: February 15, 2009 For further information: Members of the media: Dan Strasbourg, (416) 314-6197, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; Members of the general public: (416) 327-4327, (800) 268-1154