Nova Scotia·health hacks

'You can't deny the science': Why all Nova Scotians should get vaccinations

Now that Nova Scotia has joined the rest of Canada in offering a free rotavirus vaccine to all newborns, it's a good opportunity for adults to ensure they're also up-to-date with immunizations, says health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton.

Health-care consultant says anti-vaccination movement derailing efforts to eradicate some diseases

The rotavirus vaccine is administered orally at the ages of two, four and six months. (CBC)

This is part of a series from CBC's Information Morning where Halifax health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton discusses her "health hacks" — ways to make your experience with the health-care system better.

Now that Nova Scotia has joined the rest of Canada in offering a free rotavirus vaccine to all newborns, it's a good opportunity for adults to ensure they're also up to date with immunizations, says health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton.

She said it's alarming how much the anti-vaccination movement has derailed efforts to eradicate certain diseases. 

"People are either losing faith in the necessity of immunization or, you know, just don't believe that it works and that is a huge, huge public-health issue," Hampton told CBC's Information Morning.

She is urging people to "believe in the science" and make sure they educate themselves about the new rotavirus vaccine.

Rotavirus can cause watery diarrhea, vomiting and fever. It will make almost all children who aren't immunized sick by the time they are five years old, Hampton said.

Limited window to get vaccine

Starting in 2020, Nova Scotia parents who immunize their children will be able to take their babies to a primary-care provider to get the rotavirus vaccine at two, four and six months.

The oral vaccine will be administered along with regularly scheduled public vaccines.

About a third of children who contract the disease need to see a family doctor, while 15 per cent end up in the emergency department and seven per cent need to be hospitalized.

"The key to this vaccine is all three doses need to be given before the baby's eight months old," Hampton said.

Health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton says it's a cause for concern that measles is on the rise again because of a decline in immunizations. (Robert Short/CBC)

Hampton said if people don't have a health provider or don't want to talk to them about immunizations, they can go online to find out whether they are up to date.

When it comes to immunization, there is no such thing as alternative science, she said.

"People who don't believe in the science of vaccination in my mind are on par with people who are members of the Flat Earth Society. You can't deny the science."

Hampton points to the case of measles as an indication the anti-vaccination movement is having an impact on the spread of diseases that at one time were under control

Before the measles vaccination was introduced in 1963, the virus killed about 2.6 million people a year. After 1963, there was an immediate decline, she said.

But that started to change beginning in 2016. That year in Europe, there were about 5,000 documented cases of measles, then 24,000 in 2017 and 84,000 in 2018, Hampton said.

She said the beliefs of anti-vaxxers influence about 20 to 30 per cent of the general population.

"That's when the protection from communicable disease through immunization starts to break down," Hampton said.


With files from CBC's Information Morning and Jean Laroche


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