Vaccination: the healthy choice

Vaccines save lives. In fact, in the last 50 years, vaccines have saved more Canadian lives than any other medical intervention.

While vaccines have made many diseases rare in Canada, the organisms that cause them are still out there. If vaccination rates drop, we could see outbreaks of diseases such as measles, mumps, and pertussis (whooping cough) return. And diseases that are rarely seen in Canada are still prevalent in other countries, only a plane ride away, and it’s not possible to know where every person you come in contact with has been. When you get vaccinated you are not only protecting yourself, you are also protecting the people you are around—including babies who are too young to be vaccinated and people who cannot receive vaccines for medical reasons (such as undergoing cancer treatment or having a weak immune system).

Childhood immunization

Babies’ immune systems can fight off many germs, but there are some deadly diseases that they can’t handle. Children are exposed to thousands of germs every day through the food they eat, the air they breathe, and the items they touch. This is why childhood vaccinations are so important. Vaccines use tiny amounts of substances that help a child’s immune system learn to recognize and fight off serious diseases.

The Canadian Paediatric Society and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization currently recommend the following vaccines for children.

• 5-in-1 (DTaP-IPV-Hib) or 6-in-1 vaccine (DTaP-HB-IPV-Hib) protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Hib disease; 6-in-1 vaccine also protects against hepatitis B.

• Rotavirus vaccine protects infants against rotavirus, the most common cause of serious diarrhea in babies and young children.

• Pneumococcal vaccine protects against infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis (a brain infection), pneumonia, and ear infections.

• Meningococcal vaccine protects against diseases caused by the meningococcus bacteria, including meningitis and septicemia, a serious blood infection.

• MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

• Varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox, a very uncomfortable and sometimes serious infection.

• Hepatitis B vaccine protects against hepatitis B, a serious infection of the liver.

• dTap vaccine protects adolescents against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).

• HPV vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus, the cause of a variety of cancers (anus, cervix, penis, vagina, vulva, mouth, and throat) and genital warts.

Your child’s healthcare provider can advise you on which vaccines your child should have and when to have them.

Not just kid stuff

Vaccines aren’t just for children. Adults need vaccines, too. The vaccinations you may need can vary depending on what vaccines you have had in the past, whether you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the type of work you do, if you are planning to travel, and if you have any health conditions.

Commonly recommended vaccines for immunization of healthy adults include:

• Td (diphtheria, tetanus): for adults who haven’t previously received the vaccine, plus a booster dose every ten years

• Herpes zoster (shingles): adults 50 years and older

• Human papillomavirus (HPV): women up to 45 years old and men up to 26 years of age (or older if at risk)

• Influenza (the flu): annually

• Measles, mumps: susceptible adults born in 1970 or later

• Meningococcal conjugate: adults up to and including 24 years of age who were not immunized in adolescence

• Pertussis: one dose of pertussis-containing vaccine in adulthood; adults who will be in close contact with young infants should be immunized as early as possible; one dose of Tdap vaccine should be administered in every pregnancy, ideally between 27 and 32 weeks of gestation

• Pneumococcal polysaccharide 23-valent: adults 65 years of age and older should receive one dose

• Pneumococcal conjugate 13-valent: adults at high risk

• Polio: Previously unimmunized adults

• Rubella: susceptible adults should receive one dose; if vaccine is indicated, pregnant women should be immunized after delivery (or one month before pregnancy)

• Varicella (chickenpox): susceptible adults up to and including 49 years of age should receive two doses

In addition to routinely recommended immunization, certain vaccines are recommended for adults in specific
risk situations. As an added benefit, some vaccines can lower your chances of getting other diseases in addition to protecting you from the diseases they are designed to prevent, for example:

• Hepatitis B vaccine lowers the risk of liver cancer.

• HPV vaccine lowers the risk of cervical and anal cancers.

• Flu vaccine lowers the risk of flu-related heart attacks and other flu-related complications from existing health conditions

Vaccine misinformation

Some people are afraid to get vaccinated, because they believe false stories about vaccines that they have heard from friends or have read in the media. Don’t be fooled by this misinformation and let it lead you to putting your health and that of your family at risk. Here are the facts that help clear up some of this misinformation:

• The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine does not cause autism. This story began 20 years ago when a British doctor published an article that supposedly made the connection. It was later discovered that his research was seriously flawed and that he had a financial interest in a company that was going to come out with a competing vaccine. The doctor lost his license to practice medicine, and many studies have disproved any link between autism and the vaccine.

• Vaccines are safe. In Canada, there are very strict guidelines governing the way vaccines are made. As with other medicines, vaccines are tested thoroughly before Health Canada approves them for use. Even after vaccines are in use, Health Canada continues to monitor them to see if any side effects appear.

• Vaccines do work. The fact that some people get the disease after being vaccinated doesn’t mean that vaccines are ineffective. Like just about everything else in life, vaccines are not absolutely 100% effective, so there is a chance that some people will not develop immunity to the disease after receiving the vaccine. However, even if a person does contract the disease, it is likely to be less severe than if the person had not been vaccinated.

Talk to your pharmacist about what vaccines are right for you and your family, and take the necessary steps to safeguard your health against preventable diseases. You can also learn more about what vaccines are offered at London Drugs here.

7 Services You Might Not Know Your Pharmacist Offers

You might be used to visiting your local pharmacist to pick up prescriptions, but did you know there are many other ways your pharmacist can help maintain and improve your health? For many years, pharmacists have been taking on expanded roles in our health care system, working closely with patients, their families and collaborating with other frontline health care providers to deliver personalized, team-based patient care.

In celebration of World Pharmacist Day on September 25th, we’ve rounded up a list of 7 services you might not know your pharmacist offers, from travel vaccinations to smoking cessation consultations. As the most accessible health care providers, it’s easy to take advantage of these services conveniently at your local London Drugs pharmacy!

1. Medication Reviews

The theme of this year’s World Pharmacist Day is “safe and effective medicines for all”. Pharmacists play a crucial role in maintaining patient safety, improving medication adherence and reducing medication errors. One of the many ways they do this is by providing medication reviews. Through medication reviews, pharmacists provide personalized consultations to patients to examine and discuss issues around medication use, side effects, interactions, and anything else related to medication therapy, with the goal of ensuring safe and effective treatments.

2. Vaccinations and Immunizations

Certified Injection Pharmacists are able to administer vaccinations right at the pharmacy. If you haven’t taken advantage of this convenient way of getting vaccinated yet, you aren’t alone. According to a recent survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs, only four in ten say they have used this service before.

London Drugs’ Certified Injection Pharmacists can ensure you’re up-to-date with many vaccinations you require, and can administer vaccinations for pneumonia, tetanus, pertussis, shingles, and influenza.

Flu Shots

To make getting your annual flu shot as quick and easy as possible during flu season, you can see one of our London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacists, who are able to administer flu shots to patients. Patients are encouraged to call the pharmacy to confirm availability of the flu vaccine and that an injection pharmacist is on staff. This is a convenient alternative to public flu clinics, where you may have experienced long lines and wait times in the past.

Travel and Vaccination Clinics

When you’re planning a trip abroad, ensuring you are up-to-date on the appropriate travel vaccines is important. Do you know where to get your travel vaccinations? Only one in three (35%) Canadians are aware that travel vaccinations can be administered by a pharmacist.

Travel and Immunization Clinics are hosted at many of our pharmacies to help prepare you for international travel. Pharmacists will review your immunization history and make sure vaccinations are up-to-date according to provincial, national and even international immunization programs. They can also suggest and administer additional vaccines depending on your planned travel activities, previous immunization history and the local conditions at many common destinations.

3. Emergency Prescription Refills, Prescription Renewals & Drug Modifications

Pharmacists make significant contributions to the quality of drug therapy and patient outcomes by initiating, monitoring and adjusting drug therapy. Traditionally in Canada, the authority to prescribe medications has rested with doctors but as part of Pharmacists’ expanded scope of practice in Canada, pharmacists in many provinces now have the ability to provide emergency prescription refills, renew or extend prescriptions, modify or adapt drug therapy, change drug dosage and even have independent prescriptive authority (in Alberta).

4. Diabetes Management Consults

The most important thing you can do to manage your diabetes is to form a partnership with your healthcare professionals. Our London Drugs Certified Diabetes Educators can assist patients through individualized Diabetes Management Consults. These customized one-on-one consultations focus on blood sugar testing, medication management, preventing low blood sugar, foot care, eating well and getting enough physical activity.

5. Healthy Heart Clinics

Pharmacists are playing a key role in the prevention of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, by helping patients understand their risk factors, emphasizing the importance of medication adherence and offering counselling to make important lifestyle changes.

During our one-on-one 45-minute Healthy Heart Clinics, patients have the opportunity to sit down with a London Drugs Patient Care Pharmacist for a customized screening and evaluation. The pharmacist screens for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, random glucose and blood pressure, and can determine a 10-year cardiovascular risk factor based on those measurements. They also discuss with the patient how to lower their risk and improve heart health, which include recommendations for changes to their diet, fitness routines or lifestyle. As a collaborative health care provider, the pharmacist may also contact a physician, in order to recommend changes to the patient’s medications, or further medical intervention.

6. Smoking Cessation Consultations

Trying to quit smoking? Your local pharmacist can be a convenient support resource. During a one-on-one smoking cessation consultation, a London Drugs Certified Tobacco Educator will:

  • Discuss practical tips and advice to help you reduce/quit tobacco
  • Develop a personalized quit plan to help you stop smoking

In BC, pharmacists can also offer the BC smoking cessation program for nicotine replacement.

7. Hepatitis C Screening Clinics

Hepatitis C Screening is just one example in which our pharmacists provide Point of Care Testing to patients. Point of care testing refers to any medical test or screening that is performed outside of a lab or clinic. The testing happens at a place where the patient is receiving care (such as a pharmacy), making it a convenient option for the patient.

This innovative and potentially life-saving hepatitis C screening is available at select London Drugs locations. Patients can undertake a simple finger prick test at the pharmacy to check if they have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) at some point in the past. The test, called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, is more than 99% accurate at detecting HCV antibodies and provides results in 20 minutes.

In cases of a positive result, pharmacists refer patients to their family doctor for a diagnostic lab test. Pharmacists provide initial counselling regarding the potential diagnosis and education about the ability to cure HCV.

You can find out which locations offer hepatitis C screening here.


There are even more ways that your pharmacist can help you maintain and improve your health! Just visit them at your local London Drugs pharmacy to learn how.

Travelling Outside Canada? Get Current on Your Vaccinations First

With the summer holiday season approaching, you might be making plans to do some travelling abroad. While booking flights and hotel rooms is usually the first step, making sure you and your family are up to date on all age-appropriate vaccinations is another important part of the trip planning process.

The majority (78%) of Canadians believe that travelling outside of Canada puts them at risk for a number of vaccine-preventable diseases, according to a survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs. Despite this, only half (52%) of those who have previously travelled overseas say they have ever received a vaccination specifically for travel. Just three in 10 (31%) are aware that the Government of Canada recommends that Canadians visit a travel clinic before travelling.

A Convenient Way to Update Your Immunity

“Travel vaccinations can be administered by pharmacists and this can be a more convenient, time-saving option for Canadians,” says Lily Liang, a Travel Clinic Pharmacist at London Drugs.

Travel Clinics are offered at select London Drugs locations and Certified Injection Pharmacists can administer common travel vaccinations such as hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, typhoid, and traveller’s diarrhea as well other recommended vaccinations like rabies, Japanese encephalitis, meningitis, pneumonia, shingles, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella.

Liang says getting current on your measles vaccination is particularly important right now, due to reported outbreaks throughout North America.

“The measles vaccine is the best way to prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus. If you’re planning an international trip, or if you are unsure of your immunization status, get vaccinated before travelling.”

More than a quarter (28%) of Canadians say they did not receive vaccination for travel because they didn’t feel it was necessary. Yet nine in 10 (89%) Canadians say they strongly believe that travel vaccinations and medications protect themselves and others when travelling and six in 10 (61%) agree that it’s important to review their immunization history before travelling.

“The results seem contradictory but the reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases has caused some concern and confusion about vaccination. It is particularly important for those planning to travel internationally to get vaccinated,” advises Liang. “Beyond the serious health threats of not being vaccinated, travelling without them can really ruin a holiday if you or your loved ones become sick. No one wants to spend their vacation at a doctor’s clinic or hospital in a foreign country.”

Most (79%) Canadians say they are likely to visit their personal doctor to learn about vaccinations before travelling overseas, with pharmacies being the next most popular choice (61%).

London Drugs’ Travel Clinic

London Drugs’ Travel Clinic Pharmacists have obtained specialized training from the International Society of Travel Medicine and have their Travel Health® designation. They can provide advice about medications, vaccinations and health supplies needed for travel as well as the following services:

  • Comprehensive destination consults
  • Personalized travel health advice and record keeping
  • Administration of vaccines and boosters
  • Direct insurance billing

To book a Travel Clinic appointment before your next trip, visit

Health Tips Video: Stay Safe and Healthy While Travelling

Find out what travel vaccinations you need at London Drugs

Travel is an incredible way to get outside of your comfort zone, both figuratively and literally. You can enjoy new experiences, try some exciting new foods, and meet amazing new people across the world. It’s no wonder that travel is good for your mental health. But stepping outside of your normal routine can sometimes make it harder to keep up your physical health.

When planning a trip, there are a few things to take into consideration in order to stay healthy.

Pre-trip Vaccinations

Getting vaccinated before your trip can protect you from dangerous diseases you may encounter while travelling.

We’re incredibly lucky in Canada that we don’t have to worry much about getting serious diseases like typhoid, yellow fever, or Japanese encephalitis. But travellers need to consider the health risks where they’re going and ensure they’re prepared, says London Drugs pharmacist Lily Liang.

What Vaccines Do You Need?

The vaccines you need will depend on where you’re going and what you plan on Find out what travel vaccines you need at London Drugsdoing there. The risks will be different in different countries, or in urban areas versus more remote locations. Thankfully, many diseases like Hepatitis A and B are preventable with immunization.

The Public Health Agency of Canada lists travel health notices on its website, or you can talk to a London Drugs Travel Clinic Pharmacist for advice about what vaccinations or precautions you should take.

Some countries will also require proof of vaccination in order for you to enter. For example, proof of vaccination for yellow fever is required for people visiting certain countries in South America and Africa. London Drugs is a Designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre, and our Travel Clinic Pharmacists can vaccinate you and provide a certificate of proof.

How to Pack Your Medications

Find out what travel vaccines you need at London Drugs

If you have a chronic health condition, you can still travel! Make sure you have enough of your medications to last through the trip (plus some extra just in case!), and carry a record of all your medications and vaccinations. Be sure to keep your medications in their original containers.

Get a letter from your doctor explaining your condition and any medical supplies you’ll bring with you. This can make it much easier to get through security and borders without any trouble.

If you’ll be crossing time zones, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about adjusting your medication schedule.

Buying Medical Insurance

Find out what travel vaccines you need at London Drugs

Lastly, consider travel medical insurance. Your provincial health care plan and extended benefits through an employer may not cover every situation. Accidents happen!

The best way to ensure you’ll have a fantastic trip is to be prepared. Talk to a health professional or one of our Travel Clinic Pharmacists at least 6-8 weeks before you travel to ensure you have all the information you need.

For more information about travel immunizations and staying healthy while travelling, visit our travel clinic webpage or book a travel clinic appointment.