Everyday we’re constantly being exposed to different bacteria and viruses. Immunisation is the safest way to protect you and your family from catching some of the most serious diseases out there – like tetanus, measles and hepatitis B.
Children are especially vulnerable to serious diseases because their immune system hasn’t fully developed yet. As babies and infants, they’ll need to be immunised for protection against a variety of diseases.
For anyone travelling overseas, immunisation shots can help stop you from picking up some diseases prevalent in less developed countries. Men and women over 65 can also protect their health by immunising against the flu and pneumonia.
How does immunisation work?
Vaccines work by introducing dead or weakened organisms of a disease into the body. When swallowed or injected, a vaccine stimulates the immune system to make antibodies to the particular germ.
Our body, in effect, learns how to fight each type of germ. So if we come into contact with that organism later, our immune system can ward off infection before the disease takes hold.
Some bugs, especially viruses, change or mutate a lot. Antibodies made to defend us against an old form of a virus can’t fight the new form, so our immune system has to make new antibodies. In these cases you usually need to get immunised every year for the new virus. Flu injections are like this.
What diseases do we need to get immunised for?
In Australia, the recommended immunisation schedule covers nine different diseases for babies, children and teenagers:
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
- Hepatitis B