Total Care Medical Group provides information services on childhood immunisation.
Immunisation is one of the most effective strategies to protect children and adults against certain diseases with various immunisation programs available in South Australia. Immunisation not only protects individuals, but also others in our community by increasing the level of immunity and minimising the spread of disease.
When a large percentage of people in the population are immunised against a specific disease, it becomes harder for that disease to spread. Immunisation uses the body’s natural defence mechanism – the immune response – to build resistance to infectious diseases. The benefits of immunisation far outweigh the risks from the diseases they seek to prevent.
Young children, particularly babies, do not have the well-developed immune system that older children and adults have. Most vaccinations need to be given more than once to build long lasting protection – this is why it is important for children to complete the full recommended schedule of vaccinations at the recommended times. Sometimes it is possible to ‘catch up’ if the vaccinations are not given on time.
However, some immunisations like the rotavirus vaccine (opens in a new window) cannot be given later than the recommended time. Not getting the full course of vaccinations can leave a child unprotected and still at risk of getting the disease.
Protection against infectious diseases
There are many vaccines that protect against infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria and whooping cough. In the pre-immunisation era these diseases were common and caused significant disability and death. With the advent of vaccination the occurrence of these illnesses are now either diminishing or are rare in countries that have strong immunisation programs, such as Australia.
However it is still vitally important for children and adults to be immunised. Vaccination ensures those diseases are not reintroduced or that serious outbreaks of those diseases do not occur.
Protection against non-infectious diseases
Immunisation also plays a role in protecting against certain non-infectious diseases. Research shows that certain viruses are associated with some types of cancers. Examples include the hepatitis B virus and its association with liver cancer, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) and its association with some cancers in the genital area. Vaccines for both hepatitis B virus and HPV are available.