Kootenay Boundary plagued by low childhood immunization rates: Interior Health

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
February 15th, 2024

Low childhood immunization rates continue to plague the Kootenay Boundary despite outbreaks in the region and major outbreaks in some parts of the world.

Current immunization rates for Kootenay Boundary seven-year-old children sit at 54.8 per cent — Interior Health (IH) target is 70 per cent — while for two-year-old children it is 66.6 per cent (IH target of 90 per cent).

Cases of whooping cough (pertussis) have been reported in multiple areas of the Interior region over the past six months, while a major measles outbreak is happening in Birmingham, England. Cases have also been reported in four U.S. states, including Washington, and a person in Alberta who was diagnosed with measles in November 2023 had recently travelled through B.C.

Kootenay Boundary figures are among the lowest in the health authority and, as a result, extra clinics and immunization service will be introduced at community health centres. In addition, kindergarten clinics are being piloted in some schools and mobile immunization services will be offered in select rural communities.

The low immunization rates are concerning, said IH chief medical health officer Dr. Martin Lavoie, since there are diseases still occurring that can spread easily.

“Vaccines give infants and children the best protection from more than a dozen diseases that can be severe, can lead to serious complications, and in some cases can even be fatal,” he said.

He said IH data shows a decline in immunization rates for children in the region, with a range of reasons from concerns or questions sparked by online information, limited time in busy schedules to simply forgetting.

To remind those parents who haven’t had their children immunized, IH has launched a new campaign highlighting the parameters and logistics of childhood immunizations and the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Many people have questions — that is understandable,” said IH medical health officer Dr. Fatemeh Sabet. “As health professionals we are here to help everyone understand potential side effects, vaccine effectiveness, and the consequences of not being vaccinated, and help families make informed decisions.”



To the point

Childhood immunizations are free of charge. People can book an appointment at a child health clinic at their local public health centre.

If a child has missed a vaccine, public health staff can help get them caught up. To view the schedules for infant, child and teen immunizations, and to see the list of vaccines included in routine immunizations, visit Immunize BC (https://immunizebc.ca/tools-resources/immunization-schedules).


Their best shot

Castlegar-based family physician and mom Dr. Erin Charman is among those featured in the IH awareness campaign.

“I thought this was a great chance to share the importance of childhood immunizations and to help parents protect their children,” she said. “I wanted to participate in the childhood immunization campaign because as a parent and community member I witness a lot of misinformation online.”

“I want parents to know where to find accurate information to make an informed decision and know that they can contact public health at any time with their questions or concerns,” said Kelowna public health nurse Ashley Stone.

To learn more and watch videos from the campaign visit www.interiorhealth.ca/theirbestshot.

Source: Interior Health

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: General