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Simcoe Muskoka health unit ‘concerned’ people are becoming hesitant about vaccines

Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, left, receives his flu shot from Ontario Medical Association president Dr. Sohail Gandhi. The two met briefly on Monday to get acquainted and discuss the importance of immunization in the community.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, left, receives his flu shot from Ontario Medical Association president Dr. Sohail Gandhi. The two met briefly on Monday to get acquainted and discuss the importance of immunization in the community. Handout

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the Ontario Medical Association are stressing the importance getting vaccinated.

“We are concerned that some people are becoming hesitant about immunization because of misinformation being spread,” Charles Gardner, the medical officer of health at the health unit, said in statement.

“Vaccines are safe and effective, and by being immunized, you protect your family, friends and people you work with.”

READ MORE: Simcoe Muskoka health unit urges districts remain together in public health entity restructuring

According to the health unit, 63 per cent of parents in Canada look for immunization information on the internet, with half using a Google search.

The health unit says this is concerning because much of this information, which is circulated on websites and social media, is unreliable, inaccurate and may discourage parents from getting their children vaccinated.

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Busting flu vaccine myths
Busting flu vaccine myths

“In Simcoe Muskoka, the coverage rates in 2018-2019 for the nine vaccines required under the Immunization of School Pupils Act range from 91.5 per cent to 94.8 per cent,” Gardner said in the statement.

“While these rates compare favourably with the rest of the province, we still seek to improve on them.”

The Simcoe Muskoka health unit says immunizations are one of the most “successful public health interventions in history” and that they’ve led to the elimination and control of dangerous and infectious diseases, like smallpox, polio, diphtheria and measles.

READ MORE: Health minister encouraging Ontarians to get flu shots

According to the health unit, it wasn’t long ago that these diseases caused Canadian children to become severely ill and die.

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“Vaccines work, vaccines are very safe, vaccines are vital to the health and well being of us all and parents should not be swayed by the misinformation they find online,” Sohail Gandhi, president of the Ontario Medical Association, said in a statement.

The health unit says children are more vulnerable and can become very sick very quickly, and when a large percentage of the community is vaccinated — about 95 per cent for measles — the disease cannot spread easily.

Shortage of senior recommended flu shots in Ontario
Shortage of senior recommended flu shots in Ontario