But immunisations protect more than just you and your child from serious disease – they also help to protect the whole community.
When enough people in a community are immunised, it is difficult for a disease or virus to spread. It helps to protect those more vulnerable people within our communities including those who are elderly, living with illness or young children.
Your health, age, lifestyle and job will determine the vaccines you need and when you should get them.
Free essential vaccines are offered through the National Immunisation Program for eligible infants, children, teenagers and adults. Some states or territories offer additional free vaccination programs. For more information on this, please visit your state’s immunisation schedule.
You may also need other vaccines that are not provided through the National Immunisation Program. You can purchase these additional vaccines privately but it is best to speak to your doctor about this.
How does immunisation work?
A healthy immune system stops you from getting sick as it recognises harmful bacteria, viruses or any other substances (known as antigens) when they enter your body.
When an antigen like a cold virus enters your body, your immune response produces mucus. The mucus tries to flush out the virus and stop more from entering your body.
Next, your immune response can send white blood cells to surround the virus to prevent more harm. Finally, it can produce special proteins call antibodies that can lock onto and destroy the virus.
Vaccines strengthen the way your immune system fights illness by producing an immune response without causing illness.
Vaccines use dead or severely weakened viruses to trick our bodies into thinking we have already had the disease.
Are vaccines safe?
Yes, research and testing is an essential part of developing safe and effective vaccines. In Australia, vaccines must past strict safety testing before the Therapeutic Goods Administration will register them for use.
Approval can sometimes take up to 10 years.
Vaccine ingredients vary depending on what the vaccine is for. It may contain:
- A very small dose of a live (but weakened virus)
- Killed viruses
- Killed bacteria
- Small parts of bacteria
- A small dose of a modified toxin produced by bacteria
- A small amount of preservative
- A small amount of an antibiotic to preserve the vaccine.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration produces product information for each vaccine and its specific ingredients.
Sometimes, people experience side effects after receiving a vaccine. Usually this lasts for no more than a couple of days. Common reactions include pain, redness or swelling where you received a needle or a mild fever.
Serious reactions are extremely rare. If your body reacts in an unexpected way after receiving a vaccination, please seek medical attention straight away.
What is the difference between immunisation and vaccination?
Vaccination: Involves receiving a vaccine from a needle or drops in the mouth. This is done by your health professional.
Immunisation: Is the process or both receiving a vaccine and becoming immune to the disease as a result.
How do I know when I or my child is due for a vaccination?
It is a good idea to check your or your child’s immunisation history before you book an appointment.
If you are unsure what vaccines you have received, you can request an Immunisation History Statement from the Australian Immunisation Register.
The Australian Immunisation Register is a national register that records vaccines given to people within Australia.
This includes all vaccines funded under the National Immunisation Program, most school-based vaccines provided under state vaccination programs and most privately funded vaccines, including infleneza and travel vaccines.
It is up to you to remind your doctor to record your vaccination on the register.
One way you can take control of your immunisation history is to download Snug and record it on your mobile phone.
As a St.LukesHealth member, you can also connect your Snug account to your Australian Government’s My Health Record, meaning you can take control of your health information.
Snug allows you to keep up to date with your family’s immunisation schedule right from your pocket.
It can tell you when you are overdue for a vaccination, or allow you to keep track of your immunisation history
by recording your last vaccination.
Haven’t downloaded Snug?
Downloading Snug is easy. Simply visit the App Store or the Google Play to download by searching for Snug.
Best of all, the full version is free for Astute Simplicity Health members.
Rest assured, the only people who are allowed to have access to your Snug record are the people that you allow.
For more information about Snug and how to use this innovative product, visit www.snughealth.com.au or connect to Snug on Facebook @SnugHealth.
Immunisation information sourced from: Australian Government, Department of Health
Immunisation is a safe and effective way of protecting yourself and your child against serious disease through using your body’s natural defenses to build resistance, meaning that if you do come in contact with a disease in the future, your immune system will respond quickly to prevent the disease from developing.