Immunisation is the process of protecting people against potentially dangerous infections and diseases caused by micro-organisms. Immunisation can occur in two ways:
- By a person contracting the disease, whereby the body’s immune system produces antibodies that protect them from a further attack of the same disease.
- By vaccinations are given either orally or by injection. Vaccines trick the body into thinking that it has been infected by the disease and thereby prompts the immune system to start creating antibodies so that the body is ready for a possible attack from the disease in the future.
The most recommended form of immunisation is through vaccines, as certain diseases can be very harmful when contracted, potentially causing permanent disability or even death. Hence the safest method of immunisation is through vaccinations.
Immunisations are generally needed from the time we are born, and there are several age-specific immunisations that have to be given specifically to children (in addition to others that are required by both children and adults). These standard immunisations in Queensland are:
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, Tetanus and Acellular Pertussis
- Haemophilus Influenza Type B
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella
- Human Papilloma Virus
- Whooping Cough
- Chicken Pox
Many immunisations are done through a single shot or course, while others, such as the flu vaccine, may need an additional booster shot every so often. These repeat vaccines are required either because the immune response is not long-lasting, or due to certain diseases, such as the flu, evolving quite regularly with new variants of the disease being found from time to time. Because of this, the vaccine given previously may not work as effectively against the new variant of the disease. To address this issue, vaccine manufacturers conduct continuous research and development to create newer updated versions of the vaccines in order to fight these new variants of certain diseases. This is why it is important to get your annual vaccines so that your immune system is ready to fight should you contract the disease.
Getting immunised does not always mean that a person will not contract the disease, but the severity of the symptoms and the disease itself may be greatly reduced.
Although everyone should get vaccinated to stay safe from dangerous diseases, there are certain groups of people who are more at risk of contracting these diseases, such as:
- Babies and children below 5 years.
- Adults above 65 years.
- Families with newborn babies and those people caring for babies.
- Pregnant women.
- People with certain chronic diseases such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Lung Disease, HIV, etc.
- People receiving certain treatments that make them more prone to infections.
- People severely exposed to infections and diseases, such as healthcare workers.
Vaccines have been found to have certain side effects in some people, but these are very mild in nature and usually disappear after a few days. The benefits you gain from being vaccinated far outweigh these minor side effects. Such side effects from vaccines could include:
- Mild fever
- Redness or swelling at the point of injection
- Muscle or joint pain
So what are the advantages of getting yourself vaccinated?
- Protect you and your loved ones from diseases that can cause permanent disability or death.
- Stop the spread of diseases between communities.
- Help eradicate certain diseases from the community. The more people who get vaccinated against a disease, the less likely it is to spread from person to person.
There are several types of vaccines.
- Inactivated Vaccines – Those that use a killed version of the organism that causes the disease.
- Subunit, Recombinant, Polysaccharide and Conjugate Vaccines – This uses specific parts of the germ such as its sugars, protein or capsid to create the vaccine. These give a very strong immune response to diseases because they target key parts of the germ.
- Toxoid Vaccines – These use a toxin created by the germ that causes the disease and thereby creates immunity to that specific part of the germ that causes the disease.
- Live Attenuated Vaccines – which use a weakened form of the germ that causes the disease.
There are certain vaccines that are required when you travel to other countries as well. These travel vaccines, as they are known, are important in order to protect yourself against certain diseases that may be prevalent in the countries you are travelling to.
Travel vaccines should be an important part of your travel plans, and it is best to speak to a doctor or clinic that provides immunisations in Mt Gravatt or anywhere close to you as early as possible. Because vaccines need time to take effect they should be taken at least four to six weeks prior to travel.
The following are a few required vaccines when travelling abroad, however, these will depend on the country you are travelling to.
- Yellow fever
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese Encephalitis
More information on immunisations and travel vaccines are available with clinics that provide services in immunisations in Mt. Gravatt and elsewhere.