Province expanding routine vaccine program

The Grey Bruce Health Unit wishes to advise primary care providers, community organizations, residents and others of the government of Ontario’s plan to expand the province’s publicly funded, routine immunization program.

Effective April, 2022, pregnant individuals can receive during each pregnancy one dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.

The program expansion aligns with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) recommendation that all pregnant individuals be offered the Tdap vaccine, regardless of their Tdap immunization history, to help protect themselves and their newborns against pertussis (whooping cough).

The risk of severe pertussis infections and death occurs mostly in infants. The Ministry of Health says providing the vaccination during pregnancy is expected to greatly reduce this risk due to the transplacental transfer of maternal pertussis antibodies. This will provide direct protection of the infant against pertussis in the first months of life when the risk is highest and before the infant can begin their pertussis immunization series – at age two months.

The Tdap vaccine is available from primary care providers who administer other routine vaccines.

The Ministry of Health is also expanding the eligibility period for the school-based Hepatitis B immunization program to the end of Grade 12, beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

The Province says the expansion will allow students who missed their vaccine in Grade 7 – as Health Units paused in-school clinics due to the COVID-19 pandemic – to be vaccinated under the publicly funded program until Grade 12.

The Hepatitis B vaccine will continue to be offered routinely as a two-dose series in Grade 7 as part of the school-based immunization program, administered locally by the Grey Bruce Health Unit.

Research is very clear about the safety profile of vaccines that are part of Ontario’s routine immunization schedule and their effectiveness in preventing serious diseases and/or their complications.