The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is reminding parents that vaccines are safe.

The unit and the Ontario Medical Association teamed up to remind parents that keeping their children’s immunizations up to date is an important way to keep them and the rest of the community healthy.

“On behalf of Ontario’s 31,500 practicing doctors I want to say that 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,” said President of the Ontario Medical Association Dr. Sohail Gandhi.

The health unit plays a critical role in protecting the health of people in the region. “Vaccination is one of the most successful public health interventions in history. It has led to the elimination and control of dangerous and infectious diseases such as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, measles, and pertussis (whooping cough),” the health unit says.

“It was not long ago that these diseases caused many Canadian children to become severely ill or die.”

Measles is used as an example in the announcement. The disease, which children are more vulnerable to, can cause pneumonia, brain inflammation, and serious problems for years after infection. When a large part of the community is immunized, which would be around 95 percent for measles, the disease can’t spread easily.

The announcement goes on to say that 63 percent of parents in Canada look for immunization information on the Internet and half of these do a simple Google search. “This is very concerning because much of the information circulating about vaccination on websites and social networks is unreliable, inaccurate and may discourage parents from getting their children vaccinated,” the health unit says.

The announcement today is part of the OMA’s efforts to fight that disinformation.

Written by James Wood