The Quebec government’s new immunization schedule aims to make it easier for parents to vaccinate their newborns by requiring one less visit in the first 12 months.
According to the Health Ministry, some parents are currently putting off getting their child immunized or refusing to do so.
Under the new schedule for those born on or after June 1, 2019, there will no longer be a vaccination at six months because doses will redistributed. Babies will only get shots at the age of two, four and 12 months.
“This is good news. Kids will be protected but with one less visit,” says Dr. Renee Pare with Montreal Public Health.
The new schedule is based on recommendations by a group of experts.
Dr. Caroline Quach, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and microbiologist at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre (CHU), says the idea is to streamline the process “to really try and minimize the amount of doses for each vaccine that were needed to afford the best protection.”
Another change is giving the chicken pox vaccine earlier, at 12 months instead of the current 18. Quach says there are several reasons for that, including a spike in hospitalizations for the disease.
Experts want to remind parents of the importance of vaccinating.
“If you stop the vaccination, the disease comes back,” says Quach. “What we want is for your body to have its alert system on before it sees the actual disease so when the disease that could kill you shows up, you’re ready,” she says.
Montreal Public Health also says it is important to make sure each child gets all the vaccines at the recommended ages to ensure the best protection. “If you delay one of the vaccines, there will be a gap where you will be less protected,” Pare says.
Children born before June 1, 2019 will continue to follow the old vaccination schedule.