Vaccines save lives. They protect you and your family against serious diseases like measles, flu, whooping cough and chickenpox. Immunising children against certain diseases is one important way to help them stay healthy.
When you skip vaccines, you leave yourself exposed to illnesses such as shingles, pneumococcal disease, influenza, whooping cough and other diseases that can be prevented.
Vaccines significantly reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural immune system to safely develop immunity to disease.
When you swallow or are injected with a vaccine, your body produces an immune response in the same way it would following exposure to a disease but without you getting sick from the disease.
If you are exposed to the disease in the future, your body will be able to make a response fast enough to prevent you from getting sick, the antibodies will recognise the disease and fight it off. Sometimes, vaccines can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Such minor symptoms are usually normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity.
Vaccines work because of this function of the immune system. They’re made from a killed, weakened, or partial version of disease. It isn’t strong or plentiful enough to make you sick, but it’s enough for your immune system to produce antibodies against it.
Some people assume vaccine-preventable diseases do not exist anymore because they don’t see them very often, and they decide not to immunise their children, the truth is, even if you don’t see the disease around, it doesn’t mean it has gone away.
Safety research and testing reinforce every aspect of vaccine development and manufacture in Australia. Before vaccines are made available for use, they are rigorously tested in thousands of people in progressively larger clinical trials strictly monitored for safety. The results form the foundation for an ongoing process of testing and monitoring that lasts for the lifetime of each vaccine.
All vaccines registered in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) are evaluated to ensure they are effective, comply with strict manufacturing and production standards, and have a strong safety record.
In 2015, the Australian the national Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System reported that 60,782 people got sick from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Viruses and bacteria that cause sickness and death still exist and can be passed on to those who are not protected by vaccines.
The flu (influenza) is caused by a viral infection that is easily spread from person to person. Symptoms of the flu include fever, muscle and joint pains, chills, sore throat and headaches, lasting one to two weeks.
Getting a Flu Shot early in the year, before the height of the flu season can result in a considerably reduced risk of becoming infected and spreading the virus to others. #talktoyourgp
Pneumococcal disease refers to a wide range of infections that is caused by some bacteria. The most severe infections are a leading cause of life-threatening illnesses in Australia – particularly among children under two years of age and elderly people. The pneumococcus bacteria can spread between people through infected droplets in the air, from coughing or sneezing and by touching an infected person. Symptoms may include high fever and headache.
Vaccination is recommended as part of routine immunisation for people who face a high risk from pneumococcal and its complications. It is free for those over 65, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults and children, and children. #talktoyourgp
Whooping Cough (pertussis) is an extremely contagious respiratory infection. The disease causes uncontrolled coughing and vomiting, which can last for several months and can be particularly dangerous for babies under the age of 12 months. Babies are at greatest risk of contracting whooping cough until they have had at least two doses of the vaccine. Whooping cough is spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes small droplets into the air, which may be breathed in by those nearby. Infection may be spread by contact with hands, tissues and other articles soiled by infected nose and throat discharges.
The National Immunisation Program Schedule recommends doses of vaccine to be given at two, four and six months of age, with booster doses at 18 months, four years and 10-15 years. To receive a child pertussis immunisation, #talktoyourgp.
A single booster dose of adult formulation pertussis vaccine (dTpa) is recommended for all pregnant women in their third trimester of pregnancy to protect their unborn baby.
A dose is also recommended for all carers at least two weeks before close contact with the infant to reduce the chance of passing on the bacteria.
Whooping cough can cause severe disease in the elderly, A single booster dose is recommended for older people if they haven’t received a previous dose in the last 10 years.
Herpes-zoster (Shingles) is rash caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), people who have had Chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles as the virus can reactivate years later. 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime. As a person gets older, the risk of getting shingles increases. Although most people recover within a few weeks, some go on to develop chronic nerve pain called post herpectic neuralgia. This may be severe and can sometimes go on for months.
A dose of shingles vaccine can be given to adults 50 years and over.
The shingles vaccine is provided free for people aged 70 years under the National Immunisation Program. There is also a five year catch-up program for people aged 71 – 79 years until 31 October 2021. To receive the immunisation visit your local doctor or vaccination provider. #talktoyourgp
HPV is a common virus that affects both males and females, which is passed from person to person through sexual contact. HPV can stay in the body for years, causing changes to cells that can lead to a wide range of HPV-related cancers and other serious diseases.The virus is spread through intimate contact during sexual activity. HPV can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, some head and neck cancers, and genital warts. Most people with HPV have no symptoms.
Vaccinating against HPV provides highly effective protection against the development of HPV-related cancers and disease.
Regular Pap tests for females are still essential because the HPV vaccine does not protect against all cervical cancers.
The HPV vaccine is provided free in schools to all males and females aged 12-13 years under the National HPV Vaccination Program.
Whether you are travelling overseas for a holiday, for business, backpacking, visiting Friends and Relatives (VFRs) or involved in charity work, you should have an individual travel health assessment and travel health advice with your GP at least 6 to 12 weeks before departure, for a check-up and to discuss required and recommended vaccinations for specific regions.
Travellers should be aware that some health problems associated with international travel are vaccine preventable.
Visit Smartraveller (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) for more information.
Some people may need additional immunisation to protect themselves and other people they come into contact with. These people may have reduced immunity due to disease or treatment.
The National Immunisation Program funds vaccines for people that are classified as medically at risk
For more information on vaccines make an appointment and #talktoyourgp.