Vaccination

The introduction, orally or by injection, of a vaccine, a liquid preparation of treated disease-producing micro-organisms used to stimulate the production of antibodies, thereby procuring immunity from one or more diseases.

Quebec attempted to deal with sanitation problems and communicable disease outbreaks through legislation, inspection and public policy measure from colonial times. Effective prevention of diseases, however, required vaccines, which took many years to develop.

In Quebec, largely spread or localized epidemics or infectious diseases appeared yearly until vaccinations and antibiotics made them rare. Children were always vulnerable to measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, and especially diphtheria (croup). In 19th century winters, diphtheria was an important cause of mortality in children under age twelve. One of the largest vaccinations in the Canadian history occurred in Montreal in 1885, where riots broke out between largely unvaccinated civilians and largely vaccinated authorities.

The public had no faith in the efficacy of the procedure. The quality of vaccine supplies and scrupulous cleanliness during vaccination were essential. In the 1920th, BCG vaccination was done in targeted populations.

Later, poliomyelitis appeared with increasing frequency. In 1953, a large epidemic stroke Canada, and in 1955m the Jonas Salk vaccine became available, followed by the Sabin vaccine in 1960 (most Canadian provinces shifted to the Sabin oral vaccine to prevent this disease in 1962).

Although primarily a medical issue, vaccination has significant social dimensions.

Because compulsory vaccination is required to secure widespread compliance, civil liberties issues arise: citizens' right to determine the scope and method of their medical treatment conflicts with the state's duty to protect the public good. Canada witnessed renowned opposition to vaccination in the 1980s, as the success of immunization led to claims that the side-effects of vaccines outweighed their benefits.

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