National Immunization Awareness Week

April 24, 2019
Shane Simpson and Anoop Khurana

Vancouver pharmacist Anoop Khurana gives an influenza vaccine to Hon. Shane Simpson, the MLA for Vancouver-Hastings. Vaccination is your best defense against known viruses and diseases.

National Immunization Awareness Week (NIAW) 2019 takes place between April 20 to April 27, 2019 and will highlight and recognize the importance of immunization. During National Immunization Awareness Week, patients will see increased publicity about the importance of immunization and the success and impact that immunization has had in protecting and saving lives. Many organizations around the world participate in international strategies to raise awareness about the important role of vaccines.

Since 2009, pharmacists in British Columbia have been granted the authority to administer subcutaneous, intra-dermal and intra-muscular injections for immunization and for the treatment of anaphylaxis to residents 5 years of age and older. Since 2015, pharmacists have been granted the authority to also administer immunizations by intranasal route to children 2 years and older.

Pharmacists have become an increasingly popular choice of British Columbians for immunization. In the 2017/18 flu season, community pharmacists gave more than 660,000 flu shots, accounting for nearly 45 per cent of all publicly-funded flu vaccines administered.

Getting vaccinated is your best defense against known viruses and diseases. Next time you are at your pharmacy, talk to your pharmacist to make sure you have caught up on your vaccinations.

How immunization works:

Your immune system works to protect you from diseases by identifying virus or bacteria, commonly known as germs. Once it has identified the germ, it will produce antibodies which will help your body fight that strain of germ more effectively. Producing antibodies for the first time to help fight foreign germs may take time, which is why your immune system develops a “memory” so that your body knows how to fight the same germs when they appear again.

Immunization helps your body by stimulating your immune system to create antibodies against a virus or bacteria. Vaccines usually contain a weakened, an inactive form or a portion of a virus or bacteria.   When injected, your body will create antibodies so that when you come into contact with the same virus or bacteria, your body will know how to fight it faster and will prevent you from getting sick.

Getting vaccinated is your best defense against known viruses and diseases. Next time you are at your pharmacy, talk to your pharmacist to make sure you have caught up on your vaccinations.

Types of immunization:

The most frequent vaccines requested by and/or administered to British Columbians are:

  • Diphtheria & tetanus-containing vaccines
    • This vaccine is provided free to individuals who were not immunized in childhood or whose immunization history is unknown. The vaccine is recommended, but not provided free, for: adults 18 years of age and older who were immunized against pertussis in childhood but have not received a pertussis-containing vaccine in adulthood; and women in every pregnancy regardless of their immunization history.
  • Hepatitis vaccines (Hep A, Hep B) *
    • The hepatitis A and B vaccines are provided free to people at high risk of infection. The hepatitis B vaccine is provided free to individuals born in 1980 or later who have never received the vaccine or have not received the recommended number of doses for their age.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines *
    • This vaccine is provided free to eligible individuals 26 years of age and under.
  • Influenza vaccines *
    • Influenza vaccines are provided free to individuals who are at high-risk of serious illness from influenza or may spread influenza to those at high risk of serious illness.
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccines *
    • This vaccine is provided free to individuals born in 1970 or later who has not been immunized or does not have complete immunity to measles, mumps and rubella.
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate and Pneumococcal Polysaccharide vaccines *
    • These vaccines are provided free to individuals who are at high-risk of serious illness or may spread influenza to those at high risk of serious illness.
  • Zoster vaccines
    • The Zoster vaccine is recommended for people 60 years of age and older, however anyone 50 years of age and older can get the vaccine. Only 1 dose is needed for protection. This vaccine is not publicly-funded.

Pharmacists can also provide immunization for the following vaccines:

  • Hib vaccines *
  • Immune globulins (HBIg, Ig, RabIg, TIg, VarIg) *
  • Meningococcal vaccines *
  • Polio vaccines *
  • Rabies vaccines *
  • Rotavirus vaccines *
  • Varicella vaccines *

Getting vaccinated is your best defense against known viruses and diseases. Next time you are at your pharmacy, talk to your pharmacist to make sure you have caught up on your vaccinations.

* Indicates vaccines that are part of the provinces publicly funded immunization program. For full list and up-to-date eligibility criteria, please consult the BC Immunization Manual Part 4 – Biological Products