Childhood Immunizations (Nova Scotia)
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What is an immunization?
When germs enter the body, the immune system recognizes them as foreign substances (antigens). The immune system then produces the right antibodies to fight the antigens.
Immunizations contain weakened or dead versions of the antigens that cause diseases. This means that the antigens cannot produce the signs or symptoms of the disease, but they do stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. These antibodies help protect you if you are exposed to the disease in the future.
Immunizations not only help keep your child healthy, they help all children by stamping out serious childhood diseases.
Are immunizations safe?
Immunizations are generally quite safe. The protections provided by immunizations far outweigh the very small risk of serious problems. Immunizations have made many serious childhood diseases rare today. Contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions.
Do immunizations have side effects?
Some immunizations may cause mild temporary side effects such as fever, or soreness or a lump under the skin where the shot was given. Your healthcare provider will talk to you about possible side effects with certain immunizations.
When should my child be immunized?
Recommendations about when to have your child immunized change from time to time. You can get a copy of the most current child and adolescent immunization schedules from your local Public Health Office, or you can ask your healthcare provider. Immunizations usually start when your child is 2 months old and most are finished by the time they are 6 years old.
Are there any reasons my child should not be immunized?
In some special situations, children shouldn’t be immunized. For example, some immunizations shouldn’t be given to children who have certain types of cancer or certain diseases, or who are taking drugs that lower the body’s ability to resist infection. If your child has had a serious reaction to the first shot in a series of shots, your healthcare provider will probably talk with you about the pros and cons of giving them the rest of the shots in the series. Contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions about whether your child should receive an immunization.
What is the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine (also called the influenza vaccine or flu shot) is available by shot.
The influenza immunization contains dead viruses. You cannot get the flu from the influenza immunization. The influenza immunization is given at the beginning of the flu season, usually in October or November. The influenza immunization is safe for children 6 months of age and older.
Because flu viruses change from year to year, it is very important for your child to get the immunization each year so that he or she will be protected. Children are more likely to have complications from the flu.
What is the DTaP-IPV-Hib immunization?
The DTaP-IPV-Hib immunization protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, polio, and Haemophilus influenza type b. It’s given as a series of 4 shots at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 18 months of age.
Diphtheria is a disease that attacks the throat and heart. It can lead to heart failure and death. Tetanus is also called “lockjaw.” It can lead to severe muscle spasms and death.
Pertussis (also called “whooping cough”) causes severe coughing that makes it hard to breathe, eat and drink. It can lead to pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage and death.
Having your child immunized when they are young (which means making sure they get all of the DTaP shots) protects your child against these diseases for about 10 years. After this time, your child will need booster shots.
The IPV (inactivated poliovirus) immunization helps prevent polio. It has replaced the older oral polio vaccine. Polio can cause muscle pain and paralysis of one or both legs or arms. It may also paralyze the muscles used to breathe and swallow. It can lead to death.
The Hib immunization helps prevent Haemophilus influenza type b, a leading cause of serious illness in children. It can lead to meningitis, pneumonia and a severe throat infection that can cause choking.
Tdap-IPV (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and inactivated poliovirus) is also given between ages 4-6 years.
Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) is given again in Grade 7 as part of the school immunization program.
What is the Td immunization?
The Td immunization is used as a booster to the DTaP immunization. It helps prevent tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years as an adult throughout life. One dose should be given as Tdap if not previously given in adulthood.
What is the rotavirus vaccine?
The rotavirus immunization protects against rotavirus. The rotavirus immunization is given at age 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age.
Rotavirus is a virus that causes diarrhea, mostly in babies and young children. The diarrhea can be severe and cause dehydration. Rotavirus can also cause vomiting and fever in babies.
After rotavirus immunization, contact your healthcare provider if your child has stomach pain with severe crying (which may be brief), vomiting, blood in the stool, or is acting weak or very irritable, especially within the first 7 days after rotavirus immunization. Contact your healthcare provider if your child has any of these signs, even if it has been several weeks since the last dose of immunization.
What is the pneumococcal conjugate immunization?
The pneumococcal conjugate immunization protects against a type of bacteria that is a common cause of ear infections. This type of bacteria can also cause more serious illnesses, such as meningitis and bacteremia (infection in the blood stream). Children are given this immunization at 2 months, 4 months, and 12 months of age.
What is the MMRV immunization?
The MMRV immunization protects against the measles, mumps, rubella (German measles) and varicella (chicken pox). It’s given as 2 shots at 12 months old and 18 months (Note: some children may receive their second dose of MMRV vaccine at age 4-6 years)
Measles causes fever, rash, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. It can also cause ear infections and pneumonia. Measles can also lead to more serious problems, such as brain swelling and even death.
Mumps causes fever, headache and painful swelling of one or both of the major saliva glands. Mumps can lead to meningitis (infection of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord) and, very rarely, to brain swelling. Rarely, it can cause the testicles of boys or men to swell, which can make them unable to have children.
Rubella is also called the German measles. It causes slight fever, a rash and swelling of the glands in the neck. Rubella can also cause brain swelling or a problem with bleeding. If a pregnant woman catches rubella, it can cause her to lose the baby or have a baby who is blind or deaf, or has trouble learning.
The varicella immunization helps prevent chicken pox.
Some people have suggested that the MMRV immunization causes autism. However, good research has shown that there is no link between autism and childhood immunizations.
What is the meningococcal conjugate immunization?
Meningococcal Conjugate C immunization or Men‐C prevents meningococcal meningitis, a serious inflammation of the spinal cord and brain coverings. It is given at 12 months of age.
What is the Hepatitis B (HB) immunization?
The HB immunization helps prevent hepatitis B virus (HB) infection, an infection of the liver that can lead to liver cancer and death. The immunization is given as 2 doses in Grade 7 as part of the school immunization program. Your child must have both shots to get the full protection. There should be about 6 months between the first and second shots. This is the schedule that works best.
What is the meningococcal quadrivalent immunization?
Meningococcal quadrivalent immunization is intended for the prevention of illness caused by the A, C, Y & W-135 strains of meningococcus bacteria. The immunization is given by injection. It cannot cause meningococcal disease because it contains no live bacteria. It is given as part of the school immunization program in Grade 7.
What is the Human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization?
The Human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization protects against HPV. HPV is a highly contagious virus that is spread by skin-to-skin contact. The immunization helps protect against diseases caused by HPV including:
- Cervical cancer (cancer of the lower end of the uterus or womb)
- Genital warts
The immunization is offered to females and males in Grade 7. It is given as 2 shots.
For More Information:
Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness at
Public Health Agency of Canada at: