WHEN it comes to your health, and vaccinations in particular, who do you trust? A movie star who is among the so-called anti-vaxxers (but never studied medicine), or your physician, who actually does have a medical degree?

It’s tempting these days to appoint oneself a medical expert simply after spending a few days surfing the Internet. But that will never substitute for the considerable amount of time a physician spends in medical school, and later as a resident, not to mention the years of experience he or she acquires in a medical practice.

We can’t think of a single physician working in Northwestern Ontario, including medical officers of heath, who has spoken out against getting regular vaccines.

Today marks the beginning of a week-long national campaign to encourage every Canadian adult and child to make sure their shots are up to date.

“The need for vaccines does not go away with age,” notes the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU), one of the many agencies participating in this week’s campaign. “In fact, there are specific ages or stages in your adult life when vaccinations are recommended.”

Though there are currently no outbreaks of measles in Northwestern Ontario, the fact that this disease has been making a comeback in some parts of North America, including Minnesota, Washington State and New York City, should be enough to give even the most die-hard anti-vaxxer pause. Measles was supposed to have been eradicated 20 years ago, until it wasn’t.

How has this happened in age of medical miracles? Some believe we have become lackadaisical about vaccines, and measles in particular which, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Health, “can also be complicated by encephalitis — an infection of the brain — in about one out of every 1,000 children with (the disease).”

Even if the chances seem small, who would want that to happen to their child? The same could be said about a host of other virulent diseases that are still out there.

Fortunately, ongoing efforts in our neck of the woods to ensure the majority of children are immunized have paid off. In 2017-2018, the TBDHU reported that nearly 90 per cent of seven-year-olds within its jurisdiction had been vaccinated for a long list of common ailments, including measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio. Strength in numbers translates into good health for all.

The ministry contains a handy link that can help to educate oneself about common diseases and recommended vaccine schedules. It can be found at the ministry’s website — health.gov.on.ca. The curious would do well to focus on legitimate, government-approved research, rather than spurious theories put forward on a idol’s Facebook page.

The good news is that if one didn’t get vaccinated as a child, it’s never too late to get immunized — free of charge for Ontarians.

Even if you were lucky enough to get all the necessary shots that every young person should receive, health experts say it’s a good idea for adults to get a “booster” every 10 years.

But don’t take our word for it. Talk to your family doctor.

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