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Immunization and Vaccines


When you get vaccinated, you make your body stronger and more resistant to disease. No matter how healthy you are, you could get very sick or even die without vaccines to protect you.

When you get vaccines, you protect everyone else around you, too. This includes our most vulnerable people, like very young children and people who are sick or aging.


How Vaccines Work


Vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to develop protection against disease.


The main components in all vaccines are antigens. Once in the body, antigens cause the immune system to react by creating:


  • antibodies
  • immune memory


This process helps destroy specific germs that could make you or your child sick. Being vaccinated will prevent the disease or lessen its impact.




How Vaccines are Given


Most vaccines are given by a needle in the upper arm or thigh. Some vaccines, like the rotavirus vaccine, are given by mouth. There’s also a flu vaccine for children that are sprayed into the nose.


Some vaccines are given separately. Others, like the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, protect against three diseases in one vaccine.

Effectiveness and Safety


Routinely provided vaccines currently available in Canada can protect you or your child against 15 serious diseases. Most of these vaccines provide over 90% protection against the disease.


Vaccines are safe, but like any medication or supplement, they can have possible side effects.



Community immunity and disease prevention


The more people who are vaccinated in the community, the lower the risk of infection for those who:


  • aren’t vaccinated
  • developed only partial immunity from the vaccine


This means that when your child is vaccinated, you protect them as well as those around them.


Community immunity helps protect those at high risk of developing disease and severe complications or death, such as:


  • adults 65 years of age and older
  • infants and children too young to be fully vaccinated
  • people with health conditions that affect their immune system, such as those undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer



Why we need vaccines


Vaccines have successfully lowered disease rates in countries with strong vaccination programs.


Some of the diseases that vaccines prevent (like measles, mumps and polio) have no treatment or cure. These diseases can cause:


  • severe illness
  • disability
  • death


Even with improved living conditions and modern hygiene, vaccines are still very important to prevent infections that could make you or your child very sick.


Vaccine Safety


Vaccines used in Canada are safe and effective. They are developed to meet the highest standards and are continually monitored for safety and effectiveness.


On average, it takes about 10 years of research and development before a vaccine is considered for approval by Health Canada. Following approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and recommends how the vaccine should be used.


Vaccines in Pregnancy


Vaccinations during pregnancy protect both you and your developing baby from serious infections. They also help protect infants after birth, when they’re too young to be vaccinated.


  • During each pregnancy, you should get the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine, even if you’ve received it before. You should get it when you’re between 27 and 32 weeks pregnant.
  • Seasonal flu vaccine — the flu is more likely to cause severe illness during pregnancy because your body goes through many changes.
  • Hep B (hepatitis B) — this vaccine may be recommended during pregnancy for certain high-risk groups.


Talk to your health care provider or local public health authority about making sure your vaccines are up to date.


Travel Vaccines


When travelling outside Canada, you may be at risk for a number of vaccine-preventable illnesses. You should consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.


Use the reference found here to determine which vaccinations may be recommended or required for your destination.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases


Seasonal Influenza

Influenza, commonly known as “the flu,” is a respiratory infection that is caused by a virus. It can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia. People of any age can get the flu.


Most people who get the flu will recover within seven to ten days, but some are at greater risk of serious complications and may require hospitalization. Your best defence against the flu is to get the flu shot.



Diphtheria is a contagious disease that is caused by bacteria. Anyone who has not been immunized can get diphtheria.


The symptoms of diphtheria include:


  • sore throat
  • fever
  • difficulty breathing


Diphtheria can be very serious, especially for infants and very young children. It was once one of the most common causes of death in Canadian children under the age of 5.


Tetanus (also known as lockjaw) is an infection spread by a bacterium. The bacterium lives in dirt, soil and dust, but can also be found in human and animal feces.


If you have even a tiny cut on your skin, tetanus bacteria can get in. The infection affects the nerves that control your muscles. They become stiff and painful and make swallowing and breathing difficult.


Other symptoms include:


  • headache,
  • seizures (violent jerking or shaking of the body),
  • fever and sweating,
  • high blood pressure, and
  • fast heart rate.


Without proper hospital treatment, tetanus can be fatal.


Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a contagious infection of the lungs and airways. It is caused by bacteria called bordetella pertussis.


Each year in Canada between 1,000 and 3,000 people fall ill from pertussis. Worldwide, there are about 20 to 40 million cases and 400,000 deaths from pertussis each year.


Pertussis causes serious coughing fits that can lead to choking or vomiting. The coughing can be so intense that a “whooping” sound happens when you try to catch your next breath.


Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under 5 years of age.


The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the fecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis.


Rotavirus is a type of infection that’s most common in children under 5 years old. It’s highly contagious, and the virus that causes it is easily transmittable.


While the infection occurs most often in young children, adults can also develop the infection, although it’s usually less severe.


Varicella, also known as chickenpox, is a very common and highly infectious childhood disease that is found worldwide. Symptoms appear 10 to 21 days after infection and last about 2 weeks.


The defining symptom is a characteristic blister-like rash, which can cause severe irritation.


Haemophilus influenzae (Hib) is a bacterial infection that can cause blood infection (sepsis), brain infection (meningitis) and lung infection (pneumonia).


Children under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk of contracting Hib.

Meningococcal disease is a very serious disease that can lead to brain infection (meningitis) or blood infection (septicemia).


Symptoms of meningitis include fever, change in behaviour, loss of appetite, vomiting, sore muscles and joints, and stiff neck.

Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It causes rashes, high fever, runny nose, coughing, and inflammation of the eyelids.


Mumps is a viral disease that causes fever, headache, and swelling of the salivary glands around your jaw and cheeks.
Rubella (German measles) is a viral disease that causes fever, sore throat and swollen glands.
There are two main kinds of pneumonia, one caused by viruses and the other caused by bacteria.


One type of bacteria is called Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus). When these bacteria invade the lungs, they cause bacterial pneumonia. Most cases of bacterial pneumonia are caused by pneumococcus.

Hepatitis A is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver.


Hepatitis A can be spread when stool contaminated by the virus comes in contact with the mouth, usually through contaminated water or from unwashed hands. It can also be spread through food that has been prepared with contaminated water.

Hepatitis B is a contagious viral infection of the liver. The disease can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic).


Hepatitis B is spread from person to person when people come into contact with blood and bodily fluids that are infected with the disease.

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is a painful viral disease that results from the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes varicella (chickenpox).


HPV is a sexually transmitted viral infection. Some types can lead to cancer or genital warts.


COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a disease caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. It is very contagious.


COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that can feel much like a cold, the flu, or pneumonia. COVID-19 may attack more than your lungs and respiratory system. Other parts of your body may also be affected by the disease.

For more information, please visit

Immunization— Fact Sheets and Patient Tools

Available Vaccines



2 months

Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type b vaccine DTaP-IPV-Hib

2 months

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine Pneu-C-13

2 months

Rotavirus vaccine Rot-1

4 months

Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type b vaccine DTaP-IPV-Hib

4 months

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine Pneu-C-13

4 months

Rotavirus vaccine Rot-1

6 months

Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type b vaccine DTaP-IPV-Hib

12 months

Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine

2 doses are required for school attendance (see 4-6 years, below); must be given on or after the 1st birthday and at least 28 days apart


12 months

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine

Must be given on or after the 1st birthday


12 months

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine Pneu-C-13

15 months

Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine Var

18 months

Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type b vaccine DTaP-IPV-Hib

4-6 years

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio vaccine Tdap-IPV

4-6 years

Measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine

*The second dose of MMR is usually given in combination with the second recommended dose of varicella at 4-6 years


12-13 years

Meningococcal conjugate Men-C-ACYW

12-13 years

Hepatitis B HB

12-13 years

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine HPV

14-16 years

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis  vaccine Tdap


Seasonal flu  


Tetanus and diphtheria vaccine Td


Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Pneu-P-23

65-70 years

Shingles vaccine Shingrix®

Routine Publicly Funded Vaccine Schedule for Healthy Children — PDF


Contact Us



Email — [email protected]

Phone — (519) 426-6170 Ext. 3214 or (905) 318-6623 Ext. 3214

Fax — (519) 426-924