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Canada's Most Common Misconceptions About Immunization

Canada's Most Common Misconceptions About Immunization

I Boost Immunity: What the data from over 500,000 questions answered tells us about you.

During National Immunization Awareness Week 2016 you helped launch I Boost Immunity, an exciting new website featuring a series of online quizzes designed to help raise literacy about immunization. The site pairs local learning with global giving: For every quiz question answered correctly, a vaccine is donated to a child in support of UNICEF Canada. Thanks to people like you, I Boost Immunity was an instant success!

To help celebrate National Immunization Awareness Week 2017 (April 22-29), we’d like to return the favour. With over 500,000 questions answered since the site’s launch, we dove into the data to try to understand what immunization topics Canadians appear to be less knowledgeable about.

Here are three topics we identified based on some of the data we’ve collected. Some things surprised us, especially given that many of I Boost Immunity’s users tend to be pro-vaccine and work in health care.

Do you any of these topics surprise you?  

1 – The contagiousness of measles is grossly underestimated.

Q: Someone with measles sneezes, then leaves. An hour later, you walk in. Can you catch it?
A: Yes. Answered incorrectly 27% of the time.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases on earth. To put it in perspective, on average, a person with measles infects 12 to 18 people who are unvaccinated. In comparison, someone with the flu will pass it on to one to four and a person with Ebola infects two to three.

2 – HPV is much more common than people think.

Q: About ___ % of sexually active people will get at least one human papillomavirus (HPV) infection at some time in their lives.
A: 75%
Answered incorrectly 56% of the time by underestimating how common HPV is.

Having a full majority of our respondents underestimate the prevalence of a cancer-causing vaccine preventable disease was surprising especially considering that visitors to I Boost Immunity tend to support immunization. Clearly, the ubiquity of HPV distinguishes it from many other sexually transmitted infections.

3 – Vaccine safety protocols are much more thorough than people think.

Q: On average, how many years of research and development does it take before a vaccine is considered for approval by Health Canada?
A: 10 years.
Answered incorrectly by underestimating the number of years 18% of the time and over estimating the number of years 19% of the time.

Before a vaccine is released to the public, it goes through many phases of evaluation. This process takes many years because of the time that is needed to gather the scientific information necessary to ensure a vaccine is safe and effective. And it doesn’t end there. Public health authorities monitor vaccines after they have been approved to detect any previously unrecognized concerns.

Thanks again for supporting I Boost Immunity!

Last modified: 
Apr 19, 2017