Despite the increase in education around children’s vaccinations, there are STILL a lot of misconceptions out there which can be confusing. And never has there been a better time to remind us all how immunisation really works. So to set the record straight, here are seven true immunisation facts all parents need to know.
1. Immunisation has been around for centuries
The first vaccine was developed in 1797 for smallpox – a disease which no longer exists. Over the centuries, many more vaccines have been introduced for diseases such as cholera, rabies, influenza, chicken pox, tetanus and whooping cough; which has helped to significantly reduce the number of cases occurring in communities worldwide.
2. Immunisation saves lives
Vaccines are a safe and effective way of protecting babies and young children from serious childhood illnesses such as measles and whooping cough, which in severe cases can result in death.
3. Vaccines are safe
In Australia, all vaccines go through a strict testing process with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to ensure their safety and effectiveness. They are also then continually monitored and evaluated for ongoing safety.
4. Side effects are minimal
Some children (but not all) may experience minor side effects following immunisation such as a mild fever, or pain or swelling where the injection went in. Most side effects don’t last very long and the child makes a full recovery quickly. Only in rare cases will a child have a more serious reaction, such as an allergic reaction (in this unlikely event, immediate medical attention should be sought).
5. They strengthen the immune system
Vaccines use the body’s natural defences to help build a strong immune system. When a child is immunised, their body will be able to quickly recognise and respond to viruses because they have already been exposed to them in small weakened doses via vaccines. The body can fight better when it knows what it’s up against. The only other way for children to become immune to a disease such as measles, is to contract it in its full form, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
6. It is best to give vaccines on time
We get it, you’ve got your hands full with a newborn and think you’ll just put off their vaccines for a while. Or perhaps you’ve done the first couple and now they’re older, you don’t think they need any more. Wrong. For the best protection, all children need to receive their vaccinations on time, otherwise they remain at risk of infection.
However it is important to note that parents of children with special circumstances – such as some disabilities, allergies or genetic illnesses – can arrange a delayed immunisation schedule under the careful guidance of their child’s doctor.
7. Australia still needs higher immunisation numbers
Although 93.5 percent of all five-year-old children are vaccinated, in some areas the numbers are much lower. Some people can’t be vaccinated due to their age or other medical conditions. In places with high levels of immunisation, any infection introduced into the community cannot spread easily from person to person, so these unvaccinated people get some protection. This is called ‘herd’ or community immunity. If not many people are vaccinated, disease can spread more easily.
This post was originally published on 31 August 2017