Vaccines provide protection for you and your family against contracting a number of serious diseases. Advances in research and technology mean that the number of diseases that can be prevented by vaccines is growing.
Today’s vaccines are safe and effective and protect people of all age groups from a wide variety of diseases. Some of the diseases that vaccines protect against are:
The province provides publicly funded vaccines to all Nova Scotians according to the Nova Scotia immunization schedules.
For more information on vaccine preventable diseases, please visit
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Chickenpox (Varicella) is caused by a virus. It can cause a low fever and an itchy rash. The rash starts as small red bumps that become fluid-filled, break and form scabs. It usually takes 7-10 days from the beginning of chickenpox until the last of the rash crusts over. Chickenpox is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing and also by contact with fluid from the chickenpox blisters. Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can be more serious. It can lead to severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.
Diphtheria is caused by bacteria that infect the nose and throat. These bacteria release a poison that may cause breathing problems, heart failure and paralysis. Diphtheria is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing.
Haemophilus influenzae type b is caused by bacteria. It can cause infections of the lining around the spinal cord and brain (meningitis) and other problems of the nervous system. These bacteria can also cause pneumonia, swelling in the lower part of the throat, deafness and death. Haemophilus influenzae type b is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing.
Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that infects the liver. It is spread from person to person through contact with infected blood and body fluids. Half the people infected with this virus may not know they have it. Sometimes this illness may cause liver cancer and other serious liver problems.
Influenza (the flu) is caused by influenza A and B viruses and occurs in Canada every year, usually during the late fall and winter months. The usual symptoms of the flu are sudden onset of fever, chills, cough, sore throat, sore muscles and joints, headache and tiredness. It is often confused with the “stomach flu”, a stomach virus that usually causes vomiting and diarrhea, but that can’t be prevented through immunization.
Measles is caused by a virus. It can cause a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. Measles can last for one or two weeks. It can also cause swelling of the brain, pneumonia, convulsions, deafness, brain damage and death. Measles is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing.
Meningococcal (Meningitis) disease is caused by bacteria. It can cause meningitis (infection of the lining around the brain and spinal cord) or infection of the blood and can be life threatening. It is spread by direct contact with the saliva of an infected person through activities such as kissing, sharing eating utensils, coughing, and sneezing.
Mumps is caused by a virus. It can cause fever, headache, and swollen painful cheeks and neck. It can also cause deafness, infections of the lining around the spinal cord and brain (meningitis), and sterility. Mumps is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria and can cause serious illness and death. Pneumococcal infection can cause pneumococcal meningitis, pneumonia, infections of the middle ear and bloodstream. It can also lead to other health problems including deafness and brain damage. Pneumococcal disease is thought to be spread through coughing and sneezing.
Polio is caused by a virus. It may cause paralysis and, occasionally, death. The polio virus can be found in an infected person’s stool and throat.
Rubella (German measles) is caused by a virus. It can cause fever and a rash. Rubella usually lasts for less than a week. Rubella is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing. If a pregnant woman who has never had rubella or the vaccine is infected with this virus in the first half of her pregnancy, she could have a miscarriage. Her baby could be born with cataracts, deafness, heart defects and brain damage. Before you become pregnant, ask your doctor if you need this vaccine.
Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in dirt, rust, dust, manure and human stool. When these bacteria get into an open cut, they can cause muscle spasms, convulsions and death.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is caused by bacteria and begins like a cold. These bacteria may cause severe coughing, choking, whooping and vomiting spells, that can last for weeks or months, and may even cause death. The highest risk of death from pertussis occurs in babies under six months of age. Pertussis is spread like a cold, by coughing and sneezing.
To see the Canadian Immunization Guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please click on the following link:http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/index.html
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Page last updated 2012-11-15.