Immunization Info for International Students
As you prepare to come to the University of Toronto, there are things you can do in advance to help keep you safe from some illnesses. For example, getting vaccinated or immunized before you arrive.
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.
If you can’t get immunized before arriving, please visit Health & Wellness when you arrive to discuss vaccination.
For more information on these vaccines and other vaccine options, please visit the American College Health Association (ACHA) website and download Immunization Recommendations for College Students (PDF).
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. For years we rarely saw these illnesses in Canada due to good uptake of primary vaccinations. Unfortunately 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 if you are protected or not, 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. Diphtheria, which is very rare in Canada, and pertussis (whooping cough) are spread through contact with infected individuals. These vaccines usually require a total of 5 shots up to the age of 5 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 several types of bacteria that can cause meningitis. 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 2 doses spread 6 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. Rarely, there can be more severe effects such as pneumonia. If you have not already had the vaccine or the disease, the disease can be prevented by a series of two shots spread out by at least 6 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 free in Canada starting in early October. Details of how to get this vaccine can be found on the Health & Wellness website once details are available.