As recent measles scares have led the province to bring in a mandatory vaccine registry for children, B.C.’s pharmacists are hoping to make sure adults are keeping vaccinated too.
Rashin Mandegarian, a Vancouver-based pharmacist with Shoppers Drug Mart said recent studies show only 3 per cent of Canadian adults are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
“Mistrust is one of the main reasons people don’t vaccinate,” Mandegarian told Black Press Media by phone.
“And 11 per cent of B.C. adults say their trust in vaccinations has decreased in the past year.”
Mandegarian points to the recent attention given to the anti-vax movement as a key reason for the distrust, noting that although there’s no scientific proof that vaccines can be dangerous, misinformation can sow mistrust.
Pharmacists in B.C. can administer vaccines, and Mandegarian hears a lot of questions and concerns in her day-to-day.
“About 30 per cent of people believe that vaccine can result in sickening side affects,” she said.
“But vaccines cannot make you sick, you cannot get a disease.”
Most vaccines don’t contain a live copy of the virus, Mandegarian said, and even in those that do “the virus is severely weakened so there is just enough to trigger an immune response.”
She said that even among British Columbians who aren’t specifically concerned about vaccines, many think it’s a “one and done” situation.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It’s a common misconception a childhood vaccination lasts a lifetime but it is really important to receive a booster shot for diseases like tetanus and diphtheria.”
In B.C., the two vaccines are given together and the government recommends a booster shot every 10 years.
Although immunization records can be difficult to find, Mandegarian points out that an extra vaccine or a booster shot is never harmful.