Montreal

Quebec's new vaccination schedule requires one less visit in first year of life

Quebec is introducing a new, streamlined immunization schedule aimed at maximizing the population's protection against diseases by making it even easier for parents to inoculate their newborns.

New schedule for babies born after June 1 designed to make it easier for parents to vaccinate newborns

Schedule change applies to children born after June 1, but provides children the same protection with one less visit in the first 12 months of a newborn's life. (Associated Press)

Quebec is introducing a new, streamlined immunization schedule aimed at maximizing the population's protection against diseases by making it even easier for parents to inoculate their newborns.

The new schedule, which goes into effect June 1, means newborns will need one less inoculation appointment in the first year of life. 

The Health Ministry says some parents end up putting off — or even refusing — vaccination appointments because of the time it takes out of their hectic lives.

The new schedule reduces the number of vaccination visits, Quebec's Health Minister Danielle McCann said in a statement.

The six-month visit, where children used to have a shot, is now gone. Instead, vaccinations will be given only at two months, four months and 12 months of age.

Simplifying the schedule will "encourage parents to vaccinate their children within a time frame that promotes the best possible protection against preventable diseases."

Dr. Caroline Quach, an infectious disease specialist at Sainte-Justine Hospital, welcomed the attempt to make the vaccine schedule more efficient, especially given the recent measles outbreak.

Giving parents one less visit to deal with is a good thing as it takes appointment stress out of the equation, she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Monday.

Often parents feel there are too many vaccines in the first year of life, she said, and "what this schedule aims to do is give the same protection with the least number of shots possible."

Here's a full breakdown of the changes to the Quebec Immunization Program:

  • The immunization against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) infections now comes in three doses instead of four. This does away with the need for an immunization visit at six months.
     
  • The vaccine against meningococcus C is administered at 18 months.
     
  • The vaccine against varicella is administered at 12 and 18 months along with a vaccine against measles, rubella, mump, and varicella.
     
  • A vaccine against hepatitis A and B is administered at 18 months.

The changes apply to children born after June 1 and are based on advice formulated by provincial health experts, the health ministry said in a statement.

"The minister also reminds people that vaccination remains the most effective way to protect against certain diseases, and is recognized as safe by the scientific community," the statement said.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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