Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Routine immunizations protect against these dangerous and highly contagious diseases. Vaccines that protect against other diseases may also be recommended. Check with your health care provider.

Find Immunization Schedules

Some immunizations are given in a single shot or oral dose, while others require several doses over a period of time.

DTaP–IPV–Hib combined vaccine

The DTaP–IPV–Hib combined vaccine protects from diphtheria (D), tetanus (T), pertussis or whooping cough (aP), polio (IPV), and haemophilus (HiB).


Diphtheria can be a deadly disease because some types attack the airway and vital organs. Although rarely seen in Canada today, it’s easy for diphtheria to return if too few people get immunized. This has happened in several places around the world.

One person in 10 who gets diphtheria will die, even with treatment.
Tetanus (Lockjaw)

Tetanus is a life-threatening disease caused by a germ found in dust,  soil and animal feces. You can’t catch it from other people. The germ enters the body through a break in the skin. There is no other protection against tetanus except the vaccine.

1/3 of all soil samples in North America contain tetanus spores. Once a kid gets lockjaw, it’s very difficult to treat.
Pertussis (Whooping cough)

Whooping cough is still common and affects people of all ages, but is most severe in young children. Every year, 1 to 3 infants die in Canada from whooping cough. The germ is very contagious and someone not vaccinated has a very high risk (90%) of getting sick if exposed.

Young babies often catch whooping cough from an adult who thinks they just have a bad cold.

Get the facts on whooping cough


The polio vaccine works so well that there is no longer a threat of getting the disease in Canada. The highest risk of getting polio is through travel. Until polio is wiped out all over the world, protection is still needed.

Before the vaccine, up to 20,000 people got polio disease in Canada each year.
Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)

Hib is a severe life-threatening disease. Children under age 5 are most at risk and 5% will die if infected. The good news is that Hib disease is now rare in Canada, but only as long as immunization rates remain high.

Even a healthy child who has been immunized can carry and spread the Hib germ to another child.

MMR combined vaccine

The MMR combined vaccine protects against measles (M), mumps (M), and rubella (R).


Measles is contagious and can cause lifelong brain damage or death. The MMR vaccine is safe. It is NOT a cause of autism or any other disease.

Measles is the leading vaccine-preventable cause of death of children in the world.

Get the facts about measles


Mumps disease is usually not serious. However, it can cause lifelong problems such as deafness and brain damage.

Before the mumps vaccine, up to 52,000 people got sick in Canada each year.

Get the facts about mumps

Rubella (German measles)

Rubella is usually not serious in children, but very serious in pregnant women. Rubella during pregnancy can cause death or severe damage to an unborn child. Although rubella disease is rare in Canada today, it can easily return if too few children get immunized.

If a woman gets sick with rubella in the first 3 months of her pregnancy, there is a very high risk (85%) of damage to her unborn child.

Get the facts about rubella

Single vaccine protection

Single vaccines protect against hepatitis B, meningococcal disease, pneumococcal disease, HPV (Human papillomavirus), varicella (chickenpox), and influenza (Flu).

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B germ lives in an infected person’s blood and body fluids and attacks the liver. Some people don’t know they have hepatitis B and can pass it on to a friend or a loved one.

Children should be immunized early.

If a baby gets hepatitis B, there’s a 90% chance they will have the disease for life.
Meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is a very serious disease that can lead to death. This germ can invade a young child’s body quickly, which is why it’s important to immunize children as young as possible.

Some healthy people are carriers of the germ which they can carry in their nose and throat.

Get the facts about bacterial meningitis

Pneumococcal disease

Immunizing children against pneumococcal disease, as early as possible, protects them from serious harm such as brain damage and death. Some types are very hard to treat because some antibiotics no longer work.

For every 20 children that get sick with pneumococcal disease, up to 5 children will die.

Get the facts about pneumonia

HPV (Human papillomavirus)

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is spread orally and through skin-to-skin contact. HPV can cause cancers of the anus, cervix, mouth and throat, penis, vagina, and vulva, as well as genital warts.

3 out of 4 sexually active people will get at least one HPV infection at some time in their lives.
Varicella (Chickenpox)

While most people will get a mild to moderate illness, some people with chickenpox get very ill. Chickenpox in adults can be severe, with a death rate 25 times higher than for children. Chickenpox in pregnancy can seriously harm an unborn child.

Before the vaccine, 1,000 people were hospitalized and 10 died in Canada each year.

Get the facts about varicella

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza (the flu) can be a severe, life-threatening illness for the very young, the elderly and the sick. A flu vaccine for you, your child, all other family members and caregivers is the best protection. It is needed every year.

Each year in BC, hundreds of people die from the flu and further events like pneumonia.

Get the facts about flu

For more information

HealthLinkBC has more information on vaccines and diseases, often with files in multiple languages.  

ImmunizeBC has in-depth information on vaccines and the diseases they can prevent

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