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Immunization and vaccine facts

Vaccines are safe and save lives.

Vaccines work

Immunization (getting a vaccine) is the best way to protect yourself and your community against diseases that vaccines can prevent.

Over the past 50 years, immunization using vaccines has saved more lives in Canada than any other treatment, procedure, or policy against disease.

Before vaccines, many Canadian children were hospitalized or died from diseases such as diphtheria, measles, and polio. These diseases still exist, but they are rare in Canada.

The World Health Organization estimates that, worldwide, vaccines prevent 3.5 to 5 million deaths every year.


You cannot get the disease from a vaccine.

Most vaccines are inactivated vaccines. This means they have no living bacteria or viruses in them, so they cannot cause disease.

Messenger RNA vaccines (called mRNA vaccines) are a new type of vaccine. Some of the vaccines for COVID-19 are mRNA vaccines. These types of vaccines also do not contain any living bacteria or viruses and cannot cause disease.

Some vaccines, such as vaccines that protect against measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), or rotavirus, have weakened forms of these viruses. These are called live vaccines.

Live vaccines do not cause disease in healthy people, but they could cause disease in people with a weak immune system. Your healthcare provider will always ask you questions about your health and medicines before you get a vaccine to make sure the vaccine is safe for you.

Some people with a weak immune system may be able to get live vaccines safely, depending on how weak their immune system is. Your healthcare provider will help you decide what is best for you.


Vaccines do not cause autism.

There is no evidence that any vaccine, including the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, causes autism.

In the 1990s, a researcher from the United Kingdom suggested a link between MMR vaccine and autism. Since then, many scientific studies from around the world have shown there is no link between them.

In 2010, the original article that suggested a link between MMR vaccine and autism was withdrawn from the journal that published it.


It's safe to get more than one vaccine at the same time.

Getting more than one vaccine at a time does not overwhelm your or your child's immune system, and it does not put you at higher risk for rare, severe reactions. Giving multiple vaccines at one visit helps to ensure that you are up to date with all the recommended vaccines.

Only vaccines shown to be safe and effective when given together are offered at the same time. Check with your healthcare provider about when you or your child should get a vaccine or review Alberta's immunization schedule.


Healthy diet and lifestyle are not enough to protect against infectious diseases.

A healthy diet and lifestyle are important for overall health, but they do not give any immunity against the diseases that vaccines can prevent.

Without immunization, your body will not know to make antibodies to fight off diseases. No matter how healthy your diet or lifestyle, without immunization, you're at risk for serious diseases. You are also more likely to spread these diseases to others.


Most vaccines protect 90% to 100% of children who get their recommended doses.

Most vaccines will protect 90% to 100% of children who get all their recommended doses, at the right ages, and at the right times.

Without immunization, your child is facing possibly deadly diseases without protection. Getting your child immunized is the best way to protect them from serious disease.


Homeopathic or naturopathic nosodes do not protect you from diseases.

Homeopathic or naturopathic solutions, often called “nosodes,” are sometimes marketed as vaccines or immunizations. But they do not replace immunizations.

Health Canada has not approved nosodes as vaccines.

Nosodes are not tested or monitored for safety like vaccines are. All vaccines in Canada are carefully tested and continually monitored for safety.

Current as of: June 30, 2023
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
Our work takes place on historical and contemporary Indigenous lands, including the territories of Treaty 6, Treaty 7 & Treaty 8 and the homeland of the Métis Nation of Alberta and 8 Métis Settlements. We also acknowledge the many Indigenous communities that have been forged in urban centres across Alberta.