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Mailed with this issue, readers will find the Division of Immunization of the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control’s annual report on the state of immunization programs in Canada: Canadian National Report on Immunization, 1997 (Paediatrics & Child Health, 1998;3[Supplement B]). Careful reading of this report leads to the inescapable conclusion that there is no place for complacency concerning our immunization programs. In an era where we can at last contemplate the eradication of certain vaccine preventable diseases such as polio and measles, it becomes of the utmost importance to ensure optimal performance of our programs. Although in recent years we have increased the coverage rate for childhood vaccines, there is still room for improvement. We have not yet reached our established targets for disease control and immunization coverage in Canada.
Immunization is the most powerful and cost-effective tool of preventive medicine. Practicing physicians have a vital role to play in promoting immunization. In many Canadian jurisdictions, a sizeable proportion of vaccines are administered by paediatricians and family physicians. The most powerful determinant of health behaviour in a population is advice from their treating physician. Therefore, physicians should actively promote immunization. In his editorial in the immunization report, Dr David Scheifele, chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, gives physicians invaluable advice on how to do this.
The Canadian National Report on Immunization, 1997 contains important information on vaccine coverage rates, our progression toward attaining immunization goals in Canada and control of measles and pertussis, and an update on vaccine safety issues and surveillance. It should be carefully read by all physicians concerned with the health of Canadian children.