As you prepare to come to the University of Toronto, there are things you can do in advance to help keep you safe from getting sick.
Canada is generally a safe country from an infectious disease standpoint. However, being properly vaccinated against some diseases can help keep you and those around you safe.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
The Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine contains protection against the three named illnesses that are spread by contact with others who have the disease. In recent years we have begun to see new outbreaks, particularly of measles and mumps, as levels of immunization are dropping. Some of these outbreaks have been on university campuses. Proper immunization with two doses of the MMR vaccine after the age of 12 months is required to be protected. If you can’t find records of your immunizations, you can have blood tests done to check whether you are protected or simply get vaccinated.
Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis
This is another vaccine with three components. Tetanus is an uncommon illness in Canada, spread generally through contact with dirt in an open cut. These vaccines usually require a total of five shots up to the age of five and then booster doses every 10 years after that. There is no easy blood test to confirm immunity, so it is very important to check your records and make sure you are up to date.
Meningitis is another relatively rare disease spread by contact with carriers of the disease. This disease is quite serious as it affects the lining of the brain and can cause serious blood infections that could lead to death. The disease can lead to outbreaks and these have been seen on university campuses in the past, especially in residences with people living in close quarters. There are two vaccines available. One protects against Meningitis A, C, Y and W-135 and is typically given around age 12 with a booster dose at ages 16-18. If you have never had this vaccine it is worth considering. The other available vaccine protects against meningitis B and requires two doses dispensed six months apart.
Varicella (chicken pox)
Varicella (also known as chicken pox) is a viral illness spread by contact with someone else who has the infection. The disease can make you sick and uncomfortable for several days, and will require you to stay home. If you have not already had the vaccine or the disease, the disease can be prevented by a series of two shots separated by at least six weeks.
Influenza is a viral illness that can lead to high fevers, body aches, coughs, runny nose and sore throat. The disease can leave you unwell and unable to attend school for 1 to 2 weeks. The disease is spread by contact with someone else who has the illness and is most common in Canada from late October to late February. Influenza can be prevented or made less severe by getting a vaccination against it. This vaccine is available
For more information on these vaccines and other vaccine options, visit the American College Health Association (ACHA) website and download Immunization Recommendations for College Students (PDF).