FREDERICTON (GNB) – New Brunswickers are encouraged to participate in National Immunization Awareness Week, April 20-27, by becoming informed on the role vaccines and immunization play in protecting health.

“Recent outbreaks in other areas of Canada remind us that vaccine-preventable diseases still pose a threat,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell. “Before the measles vaccine was introduced in Canada, we had an average of 53,000 cases of measles per year and now we only see about 200. During National Immunization Awareness Week, we celebrate those who make our immunization program in New Brunswick a success.”

The theme of this year’s provincial campaign is Protect Your Community: Do Your Part! The goal of the campaign is to highlight the role individuals can play.

“High immunization rates are key to keeping vaccine-preventable diseases from spreading,” said Dr. Serge Melanson, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “In some areas around the world, these rates have dropped so much that the World Health Organization has identified 'vaccine hesitancy' as a key threat to global health. We need to work together to address misinformation and to ensure that as many people as possible are being vaccinated.”

Publicly funded routine immunization starts at birth, continues through all stages of life, and is available at no cost to New Brunswickers. The New Brunswick Routine Immunization Schedule outlines routine immunizations recommended for infants, children, adolescents and adults which are provided by a variety of health care professionals free of charge.

Immunization is an important way for individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones. In Canada the process of manufacturing vaccines is lengthy and closely monitored. An average of 10 years of research and development takes place before a vaccine will be considered for approval.

More information on immunization is available on the Department of Health website. A video is also available online.