10 important vaccinations for kids, from infants to teens
September 26, 2023
For plan members, sponsors and administrators
Understanding childhood vaccines and distinguishing myth from fact
The return to school brings with it the reminder of the importance of childhood vaccines.
Provinces and territories across Canada might require children attending school to meet certain vaccine requirements.1 Vaccinations can help protect your child against serious diseases and ensure those diseases remain rare or even eliminated in Canada.2
With a new school year underway and cold and flu season just around the corner, there’s no better time to ensure your vaccinations are up to date. Taking the time to educate employees about the importance of childhood vaccines can also help reduce the impact of childhood illness on caregivers and the family.
Childhood vaccination rates still lower than ideal
Over the course of the COVID-19 global pandemic, vaccination rates amongst children declined across the world.3
This drop in vaccination rates is likely in part due to reduced access to healthcare during the pandemic, with visits for vaccines being cancelled or deferred in many cases4
“Vaccinations are crucial for protecting children from preventable diseases that can cause lifelong health impacts or even death,” says Pavithra Ravinatarajan, a practicing pharmacist and Director of Plan Sponsor Risk Management and Key Accounts Strategy at Manulife. “Vaccines not only strengthen the immune system and prevent some infections, but they also protect those around you.”
Vaccine myths and facts
To help dispel some common misconceptions, here are a few myths and facts about vaccines.
Myth #2: “Natural” immunity is better.
Fact #2: Many “natural” things, including viruses and bacteria, can cause serious harm or death, and being susceptible to these infections puts your child at risk.6 Vaccines use inactive or less potent viruses or bacteria to safely stimulate immune system to provide protection against these dangerous diseases.6
Myth #3: It is best to get vaccines one at a time.
Fact #3: Studies show combination vaccines, such as the measles/mumps/rubella combined vaccine, are not only safe and effective but they provide protection from several different diseases with just one injection.6
Myth #4: Some of the materials used to make vaccines are unsafe.
Fact #4: Vaccine ingredients are carefully studied and closely monitored to ensure they are safe.6 Canada has strict guidelines for making vaccines and ensuring their safety.6
Common childhood vaccines from babies to teens
Vaccination is one of the best way to protect your kids from several serious diseases.2 As always, it’s best to speak with your healthcare team for a vaccination schedule that best suits your child. The timing, number of doses, and mandatory requirements might be different depending on where you live in Canada1
We’ve compiled this list outlining the common vaccines for kids – from babies to teens.
Diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (DTaP-IPV-Hib)
- DtaP-IPV-Hib is a combined vaccine that protects babies and children from five diseases.7
- Diptheria is a serious disease of the nose, mouth, and throat that can lead to severe complications, including death.7
- Tetanus can cause cramping of the muscles which can lead to difficulty breathing and death. 7
- Pertussis (aka whooping cough) can cause serious complications in infants including pneumonia and death.7
- Polio can cause nerve damage and paralysis.7
- Hib (aka Haemophilus influenzae type b) can lead to serious diseases like pneumonia and meningitis (a brain infection).7
- Several doses of this vaccine are recommended for infants and children starting at two months of age.7
Pneumococcal vaccine (Pneu-C-13)
- Pneu-C-13 protects against some of the most common kinds of bacteria that cause pneumonia and ear infections.7
- Pneumococcal infections from Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria can lead to meningitis (a brain infection), pneumonia, and bacteremia (an infection of the bloodstream).7
- Several doses of this vaccine are recommended for infants and children beginning at two months old.7
Meningococcal vaccine (Men-C-C)
- Men-C-C protects against diseases caused by the meningococcus bacteria including meningitis (a brain infection) and septicemia (a blood infection).7
- This vaccine is recommended for children at around 12 months of age.7
- Rotavirus causes serious diarrhea in babies and small children and is a major cause of doctors’ visits and hospital stays in Ontario for children under five years old.7
- Several doses of this vaccine are recommended, with the first dose usually recommended around 2 and four months of age.7
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
- The MMR vaccine protects against measles (a highly contagious respiratory infection, that is particularly dangerous for young children), mumps (a contagious viral infection that causes painful swelling of glands in the neck), and rubella (a viral infection that can impact pregnancies).7
- The first dose is recommended at between 12 to 15 months old with the second dose around ages 4 to 6.7
- The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox, a highly contagious disease that can cause a blister-like rash or pneumonia.7
- The first dose is recommended to be between 12 to 15 months old.7
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (dTAP)
- The dTap vaccine provides further protection for adolescents against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).7
- This vaccine is recommended for children around the age of 13 or grade 7.7
- The hepatitis B vaccine protects against a virus that infects the liver, which can cause liver failure and liver cancer.7
- This vaccine is recommended for children around the age of 13 or in grade 7.7
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- The HPV vaccine protects teens from certain types of HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts, and the vaccine has been shown to prevent several types of HPV-related cancers.7
- The vaccine is usually recommended for children around the age of 13 or in grade 7. 7
Meningococcal vaccine (Men-C-ACYW)
- Men-C-ACYW vaccine for adolescents protects against diseases caused by the meningococcus bacteria, including meningitis (a brain infection) and septicemia (a blood infection).7
- This vaccine is recommended for children around the age of 13 or in grade 7.7
For a detailed breakdown of when your infant or child should receive each vaccination, you can check out the Government of Canada’s Canadian Immunization Guide.
Flu & COVID-19 vaccinations
Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are also recommended for children over the age of six months.8,9 For information about the flu shot, including who should especially be vaccinated, visit the Government of Canada’s website for more details.8
Being vaccinated against COVID-19 can help protect against severe illness or death from COVID-19.9 The Canadian government also provides detailed information about where to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and how to book an appointment.9
Tips for parents for a positive vaccine experience
Getting vaccinations can be a stressful time for both parents and kids but there are some things you can do to help make getting a shot a little bit easier.10
- Be prepared, write down any questions you might have for your child’s doctor ahead of time, so you don’t forget.10
- Discuss options for pain reduction with your doctor ahead of your child’s vaccination appointment.10
- Have a conversation with your child about the importance of vaccines and why they are needed.10
- Bring your child’s immunization record along with you to your appointment.10
- Ask about possible side effects, such as a fever, and how to manage any symptoms.10
Vaccines and your Manulife Group Benefits
Most routine childhood vaccines are covered by health plans in your province or territory.
Travelling soon? Ensure your employees have the benefits coverage they need for travel vaccines, reducing the likelihood they will delay their return-to-work post-vacation due to illness. These types of vaccinations are not usually covered by the government.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice or to replace the advice of a medical doctor.