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Canadian Paediatric Society

Paediatricians call for national harmonized immunization schedule

Jan 17 2011

OTTAWA – It’s time for Canada to join other developed nations and adopt a harmonized immunization schedule across the country says the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) in a statement published today in Paediatrics & Child Health.

“This is a real issue,” says Dr. Noni MacDonald, principal author of the statement and Editor-in-Chief of Paediatrics & Child Health. “The CPS has been calling for this for over a decade.”

Currently, while the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) sets a “minimum” recommended schedule, each province and territory determines which vaccines it will fund and when they will be given.

But different provincial/territorial vaccine schedules across the country create inequitable access, safety issues and confusion among parents and health care providers.

“[Canada] is the only industrialized country without a harmonized schedule,” says Dr. MacDonald. “The current system can easily lead to mistakes. With families moving from one province to another, children’s immunization becomes an accident waiting to happen. It is so easy for children to fall through the cracks and miss getting important, life-saving vaccines.”

While health care providers struggle to stay abreast of the different immunization schedules for each province and territory, mismatched schedules leave information gaps that neither parents nor providers can fill. It should be easy for parents and health care providers to know whether a child or adolesecent is on track with their immunizations. Instead, it can be difficult to determine whether a child’s vaccines are up-to-date.

“The system was fine when the schedules were very simple, but they are very complicated now,” says Dr. MacDonald, noting that many vaccines require multiple doses at particular intervals. “In addition to the patient safety —such as the potential for missing doses—a harmonized schedule would cost less, and simplify the training and educating of both parents and health professionals.”

The statement says that harmonization can be achieved quickly with the proper incentives and the support of each province, territory, and the federal government.

To access the full statement, visit: A harmonized immunization schedule for Canada.

About the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS represents more than 3,000 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other child health professionals across Canada.

Last updated: Nov 13 2012