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What Are Immunisations and When Should My Child Get Them? –  Dr Siva from Townsville Paediatrics Explains.

Immunisation is the process that protects people against infections caused by certain micro-organisms. These are micro-organisms that may result in illness, disability, or death. Vaccines (medicines) used in this process improve the body’s defence against infection and protects them against the short and long term complications of those infections.

Immunisations has eradicated many disease such as smallpox from the world. As recently as the 1950’s, thousands of children died every year from diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis). Luckily, it is rare for anyone in Australia to die from these infectious diseases now.

This is thanks to the major vaccination programs introduced in the 1960’s and 1970’s, which continue to date. Immunisations have thus proven to be an effective and safe way to protect you, your children, and future generations from many lethal infections. 

Immunisation not only protects individuals and families, but also the wider community.  The greater the number of vaccinations, then fewer the infections. As a result, there is a lesser spread of disease and thus a healthier community. A striking example of the importance of immunisations are the benefits of polio vaccination. People calculated that the vaccine prevented more than 150,000 cases of paralytic polio and 12,500 deaths worldwide in the first six years after its introduction. 

People get immunisations for various bacterial and viral infections like Diphtheria, Tetanus, Meningococcal disease, Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Adolescent boys and girls receive human papilloma virus vaccine to reduce incidence of cervical cancer.  

All the vaccinations have been rigorously tested to demonstrate their safety and effectiveness in protecting against infectious disease. Most of the vaccines are safe. The common side effects are pain, redness, and mild swelling at the site of injection. Some vaccines may cause mild fever or milder form of disease.

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Every country has its own immunisations schedule based on the types of infections prevalent in those countries.

These immunisation schedules provide advice on the recommended vaccine and age of vaccination. All immunisations work in similar way – they improve the body’s immune system against a particular infection upon contact with that infection. All contact after vaccination ensures that the immune system is ready to repel the disease or reduce the intensity of the infection.

Click here for the Australian National Immunisation Program.