Ontario has launched four online learning courses to help health care providers respond to patients’ questions about immunization and Ontario’s expanded publicly funded immunization schedule.
“Earlier this year, we added more free immunizations to protect babies and children from serious infectious diseases,” says Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “We know the public has many questions when it comes to vaccines, and we want to make sure they’re getting the most accurate answers possible. That’s why we’re giving our health care providers the tools to inform their patients and spread the word about preventing infectious disease.”
In August 2011, Ontario expanded its immunization program by adding:
§ A new oral vaccine to protect infants against rotavirus, which causes severe intestinal infections.
§ A second childhood dose of varicella vaccine to enhance protection against chickenpox.
§ A new combined measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine so children will get only one needle rather than two.
§ A lifetime dose of pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine for adults aged 19 to 64, who often pass this highly contagious disease to infants and children.
The four online education modules were developed to provide background information that health care professionals can use with their patients when discussing their immunization needs. The modules cover the following areas:
§ General Immunization
Provides information responding to concerns and issues that people may have about immunization. It explains the benefits and safety of immunization and provides responses to many of the myths surrounding vaccines.
Provides information on the new oral vaccine designed to protect against rotavirus which causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.
Provides information on the newly expanded two-dose varicella program designed to enhance protection against chickenpox. Alternatively, a second dose of the varicella vaccine is offered in the form of the new combination measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine, effectively reducing the number of injections required to be protected against these diseases.
Provides information on the new adult booster dose of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis for those who were not immunized in their teen years. Parents, grandparents and caregivers often pass this highly contagious disease to infants and children who are not yet fully immunized.
The four educational programs were reviewed and accredited by the Ontario chapter of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
“Immunization works.” says Dr. Arlene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario. “Just 100 years ago, infectious diseases were the leading causes of death worldwide. They now cause less than five per cent of all deaths in Canada. Getting the most up-to-date shots is the safest and best way to protect one’s self, family and community from some very serious infections. I encourage all health care providers to talk to their patients to get the shots they need”
The education courses can be found online at: www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/immunization/education.aspx.