The timing of the current measles outbreak in Alberta underscores the importance of immunization.
During the first half of the 20th century, preventable diseases killed thousands of people. Outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, polio and other preventable diseases resulted in hundreds of children throughout Alberta dying each and every year.
In the 1950s, preventable diseases such as polio, measles, pertussis, and diphtheria killed one out of every 28,000 people. Today, the number of deaths related to preventable diseases has dropped dramatically, down to one in every 462,500 people. The last person to die from the measles in Alberta was in 1988.
This dramatic decrease in mortality rates is not because these life-threatening diseases have been eradicated. They’re still here. What’s protecting us is Alberta’s rigorous immunization program.
Vaccinations have clearly saved countless lives in our province and have kept children and adults out of walk-in clinics, hospitals and funeral homes. But in order for immunization to continue to protect us, we all need to do our part. Make sure your vaccinations and your children’s vaccinations are complete and up-to-date. By doing so, you’re not only protecting yourself and your family, you’re also protecting your friends, neighbours, and co-workers.
I encourage everyone to learn more about vaccinations and how they protect against preventable diseases in order to help us all live healthier lives. Please visit www.albertahealthservices.ca to learn more about immunization or call Health Link Alberta toll-free at 1-866-408-5465 if you are unsure of your immunization history.
Dr. James Talbot
Chief Medical Officer of Health, Alberta