Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives.
Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in Australia; including polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, rubella, mumps, tetanus & Haemophilus influenzae type b.
Before widespread vaccination:
Now, Australia has low rates of vaccine-preventable diseases. Some people question whether we still need vaccines.
Vaccines should be given for three reasons:
(Source: P.A. Offit M.D, L.M.Bell, M.D, Vaccines What You Should Know, Wiley, 2003
Vaccines give community protection. Immunising individual children also helps to protect the health of everyone around you, especially those who cannot be immunised (those who are too young to be vaccinated, those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination). Immunisation reduces the number of people who contract disease or become carriers and therefore potential opportunities for exposure to the disease. Some infections like whooping cough, varicella and measles are so very highly infectious or transmissible that we need at least 95% of the population to be immune to prevent infections passing between people. That is why there are still some outbreaks of whooping cough.
Vaccination is not compulsory in Australia. Whilst the average rate for childhood immunisation across the country is over 90%, many communities fall well below this average, thus increasing the risk of outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in these communities in families and friends.
In an effort to provide awareness and reminders for families to schedule booster vaccinations with their local GP, the national immunisation register has been established in association with your local GP. Visit their website for an up to date list of booster shots required for your family.
It is true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they receive antibodies from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last anywhere from a month to about a year, dependent upon the immunity of the mother. Further, many young children do not receive antibodies from their mother against some vaccine preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease-causing germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease.
No amount of healthy living and diet is enough to fight Australia’s deadliest vaccine preventable diseases that exist today, such as pneumococcal and meningococcal disease.
Many adults and teenagers wrongly assume that the vaccines that they got as children were all that they needed for the rest of their lives.
Teenagers should receive three vaccine boosters: