Healthy Living in the North

Immunize for your health

child, health, play, immunizations

Immunizations are a big part of keeping your little ones healthy!

Did you know that in the last 50 years, immunization has saved more lives than any other health intervention in Canada? Immunization works to protect you against specific diseases that can make you very sick or even kill you. Once you get immunized, your body works to make antibodies against that specific disease. Antibodies act as a defense for your body to protect you if you are exposed to the disease in the future.

April 26 to May 3 is National Immunization Awareness Week in Canada.

There can be a lot of confusing and misleading information on immunizations, so here are a few common questions and answers:

Q: We’ve been immunizing for a long time. Are the diseases gone? Is it safe to stop immunizing?
A: These diseases are still around. Some vaccine-preventable diseases are rare in Canada (e.g., diphtheria); however, history has shown that rates of disease increase if we stop immunizing.

Q: What are common side effects of an immunization?
A: Every immunization is a little different, but common side effects are a low fever or soreness where the shot was given.

Q: Is it better to get the disease “naturally” rather than to get the vaccine?
A: No, natural infection from some diseases can make people very sick or kill them before their body is able to fight it off.

The risks associated with vaccines are much less than the risks associated with disease.

For additional trusted information about vaccinations and immunizations, check out HealthLink BC, or download their app, BC Health Service Locator.

Want to make it easier to remember when you or someone in your family is due for their next immunization? Go to ImmunizeBC to set up text reminders that will be sent right to your phone to remind you of upcoming immunizations. It is free, and can be used for any age and immunization. This website also has a lot of good information on immunizations, and has a chat room that allows people to talk to a nurse. Also, you can download a free app (ImmunizeCA) to help you keep track of your family’s vaccinations. For more information or to receive immunizations, please contact your local health unit.

What are some of the ways that you keep track of your immunizations?

Kim Garrison

About Kim Garrison

Kim is the Public Health Communications Liaison Nurse and works out of Mackenzie. She has a background in public health, and is a graduate of UNBC. She was born and raised in Prince George, and recently moved to Mackenzie with her young family. Her favorite thing about Mackenzie so far is Morfee Lake, which is about five minutes away from her house! She keeps busy chasing after her little ones, and enjoys getting outside when it’s not too cold out!

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February 14th: Sexual and Reproductive Health Day

sexual and reproductive health dayThis Friday is February 14th. Do you know what day that is? Of course you do! It’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Day in Canada, as recognized by the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health. Sexual and reproductive health covers a wide range of topics, including awareness of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Over the past 10 years, Northern Health has seen and treated an increasing amount of STIs and this trend is likely to continue unless we take more precautions. Here are some facts about STIs in the north:

  • STIs affect both men and women
  • Almost half of STIs occur in people under the age of 25
  • There are at least 20 different kinds of STI
  • Some STIs are more common, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and human papillomavirus virus (HPV)

An STI is not something that you want to deal with, so it’s important to know how to recognize their symptoms, how to prevent them, and where to get testing and treatment.

Symptoms can vary for each STI, but here are some of the general ones to look out for:

  • Sores or blisters on the genitals or around the anus or mouth
  • Irregular growths (warts) in genital area
  • Genital itching
  • Pain with intercourse, urination or having a bowel movement
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting after sexual intercourse
  • Rash
  • Pain or swelling of glands in groin area

The best way to prevent getting an STI is to use a condom every time you engage in intercourse. Getting tested regularly is also important. You can do so at the health unit or at your doctor’s office. Regular testing is vital because some people have no symptoms at all. You should get tested if:

  • You have any symptoms
  • Your partner has been diagnosed with an STI or has symptoms
  • You have started a new relationship
  • You or your partner have not been tested in the last year

An HPV infection can lead to serious health problems, including genital warts and cervical cancer.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea and are both treatable. Treatment is free at sexual health clinics throughout the north. Treating HPV depends on the type of infection (there are over 100 kinds). For more information on treatment and testing, please visit your local health unit.

Fortunately two vaccines are available in Canada to prevent HPV infections, Gardasil™ and Cervarix™. They are provided at no cost to many girls and women. You can get them at your local health unit, doctor’s office, and many pharmacies. For more information on HPV and other vaccines and eligibility, please visit Immunize BC.

Kim Garrison

About Kim Garrison

Kim is the Public Health Communications Liaison Nurse and works out of Mackenzie. She has a background in public health, and is a graduate of UNBC. She was born and raised in Prince George, and recently moved to Mackenzie with her young family. Her favorite thing about Mackenzie so far is Morfee Lake, which is about five minutes away from her house! She keeps busy chasing after her little ones, and enjoys getting outside when it’s not too cold out!

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