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Emergency Department

National Immunization Awareness Week | April 22-30, 2024

When Immunize Canada launched National Immunization Awareness Week in the 1990s, it echoed a very successful program that Canada saw in the 1930s. Back then, vaccines were new, and the diseases they prevent were far too common.

Details can be found in back issues of the Canadian Journal of Public Health, the long-running journal of the Canadian Public Health Association.

One of the earliest campaigns, launched in 1931, was Toronto’s Toxoid Week, which focused on diphtheria. Toxoid Week became a stronger initiative after the establishment of the Health League of Canada in 1935. Largely spearheaded by the now-defunct League, the campaign involved schools, radio stations, newspapers, magazines, service clubs, and physicians to get the message out.

In 1942, it was decided that more diseases needed to be included, and the first National Immunization Week was born: a “coast-to-coast program of education directed towards the prevention of smallpox and whooping cough as well as diphtheria”

Much has changed in Canada since the 1930s. In the mid-1970s, the Health League closed its doors. By then, immunization was common, and several important diseases were fading from memory. In the meantime, new vaccines were developed and are widely used. Smallpox – once a health threat worldwide – was eradicated. Canada was certified polio-free in 1994. Many lives have been saved by immunization, and countless illnesses and long-term health problems avoided. Vaccines truly are one of the great public health achievements of the twentieth century – and onward into the twenty-first.

But some things don’t change. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still very much with us. We need to continue to educate Canadians about immunization and promote awareness of its benefits to health with up-to-date information. We need to involve traditional media, health care providers, and social media. And we need to keep vaccinating! Recent outbreaks of mumps and measles remind us that, if immunization rates drop, diseases will reappear. Immunization rates must remain high in order for individuals and communities to stay protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

National Immunization Awareness Week is a great time to learn more. Visit for reliable information on immunization for all generations.

How to get a copy of your immunization record

You can get your immunization record by submitting a request via the Immunization Update Request Form and it will be mailed to you.

You may also be able to get a copy by:

  1. Contacting your local public health office
  2. Check if your local medical clinic or physician’s office can provide them to you
  3. Asking at a local nursing station or health centre

The Manitoba Immunization registry was started in 1988. Immunizations provided prior to 1988 are unlikely to be included in Manitoba Health’s official registry. Please check for paper records at home or with your local health care provider. Manitoba Health sends out a copy of your immunization record when you turn 7 and 18 years old.

National Immunization Week: November 14 – 21. Can Public Health J 1943:34(10):477. Available at: (Accessed April 13, 2017).
Bates G. Diphtheria-Toxoid Week in Toronto. Can Public Health J 1938;29(12):578-82. Available at: (Accessed March 14, 2017)

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