Immunisation is the process by which people can get protected against certain diseases caused by micro-organisms. Immunisation is attained by way of vaccinations, which can be given either orally or as an injection.
Immunisation against various diseases is recommended from birth and is required by both children and adults. Its main purpose is to prevent people from contracting infectious diseases, as most of these diseases could have long term adverse complications.
Immunisation works by using the body’s own defense system against infections. A vaccine consists of dead or weakened viruses. When administered into the body, the body is tricked into thinking that the person has contracted the disease, and therefore the body’s immune system takes over and starts producing antibodies against the foreign substance. These antibodies will protect the body against infection in the future as well. If you contract the virus again, your immune system will recognise it and rapidly start producing antibodies to fight against it. Sometimes you can still get the disease even after vaccination, but the severity of it is greatly reduced.
There is also such a thing as natural immunity. Natural immunity occurs when you get infected by a disease so that you become immune to it afterward. Many people believe that this type of immunity is far better than getting vaccinated, however, the risks linked with it are much higher, because certain contagious diseases can have very serious long term complications, or can even lead to death. So getting the disease to get immunity from it is not an ideal solution. This concept of natural immunity existed more than 2000 years ago when the ancient Greeks observed that people who had contracted the Bubonic Plague previously were resistant to getting the disease again. Hence, they used survivors from the disease to nurse and care for patients during later epidemics of the same disease.
Immunisation by vaccination was introduced by British GP Edward Jenner in the 18th Century.
There are different types of immunisations (or vaccinations). When creating vaccines or vaccine types, several factors are taken into consideration, such as:
- How the immune system responds to the germ.
- Who needs to be vaccinated against the germ.
- The technology or method is available to create the vaccine.
Based on these factors, vaccines come in four different types.
- Live attenuated vaccines – These vaccines use a weakened form of the disease (or germ) to create the vaccine. Because of this, the vaccine helps prevent the disease and creates a long-lasting immune response. Usually, one or two doses of a live vaccine is enough to protect you against the disease for a lifetime.
However, there are certain limitations to live vaccines, such as:
- Since it contains a weakened form of the virus, you should first check with a medical professional before getting the vaccine, especially if you have any long-term health issues, have had an organ transplant, or have a weakened immune system.
- These vaccines need to be kept cool at all times, and hence cannot be used in places that don’t have sufficient refrigeration facilities. Moving them around could also pose a problem.
Live vaccines are used to protect you from the following diseases:
- Measles, Mumps & Rubella
- Yellow Fever
- Inactivated vaccines – These vaccines use dead versions of the germ to create the vaccine. These don’t provide as much protection as live vaccines and may need to be taken in several doses.
Inactivated vaccines are used to protect against the following diseases:
- Hepatitis A
- Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines – These vaccines use specific pieces of the germ, such as its protein, sugar, or capsid to create a vaccine. They provide a very strong immune response that is targeted to key parts of the germ and can be used on anyone, including people with a weakened immune system or those with long term health issues. You may need booster vaccines of this type to get continuous protection against the disease.
These vaccines protect against the following diseases:
- Haemophilus influenza type B
- Hepatitis B
- Human Papillomavirus
- Whooping Cough
- Pneumococcal disease
- Meningococcal disease
- Toxoid vaccines – These vaccines use toxins made by the germ and create immunity against the parts of the germ that cause the disease.
Toxoid vaccines are used to protect against the following diseases:
Scientists are currently experimenting on creating other types of improved vaccines, such as:
- DNA Vaccines provide long-lasting and very strong immunity against diseases and are relatively cheap and easy to produce.
- Recombinant Vector Vaccines that act as a natural infection and teach the immune system how to fight the germ.
There are many clinics in Australia that are specialised in vaccinations and have the latest information on diseases as well as vaccinations. You can find clinics that provide facilities for immunisation in Bayswater, Hobsons Bay, and many other areas.
Most clinics these days provide online appointments for immunisation in Hobsons Bay and other areas around the country. Online appointments are safer and far more convenient to make.
Protect yourself and your loved ones against life-threatening diseases. Get immunised today!