Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them. Immunisation not only protects individuals, but also others in the community, by reducing the spread of preventable diseases.
If you’re not immunised you may put people’s health at risk, especially:
frail older people
those who don’t have a strong immune system
Are vaccines safe?
Research and testing is an essential part of developing safe and effective vaccines.
In Australia, every vaccine must pass strict safety testing before the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will register it for use. Approval of vaccines can take up to 10 years. Before vaccines become available to the public, they are tested on thousands of people who take part in large clinical trials.
Vaccine side effects
Your child may experience minor side effects following vaccination. Most side effects last no more than a couple of days and your child will recover without any problems. Mild reactions can be managed with simple steps, such as giving paracetamol.
Common reactions to vaccination include:
pain, redness and/or swelling where you received the needle
Serious reactions like allergic reactions are extremely rare. If you have a reaction that you think is severe or unexpected, seek medical advice straight away. If you have any concerns about potential side effects of vaccines, talk to your doctor or nurse.
Why get immunised?
Before vaccination campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s, diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough killed thousands of children. Today, it is extremely rare to die from these diseases in Australia.
All diseases we vaccinate against can cause serious ongoing health conditions, and sometimes death. Immunisation is a safe and effective way of protecting you and your child against these diseases. We are now able to prevent a larger number of serious and life threatening infections.
Protect your community
When you get immunised, you protect yourself as well as helping to protect the whole community. When enough people in the community get immunised, it is more difficult for these diseases to spread. This helps to protect people who are at more risk of getting the disease, including unvaccinated members of the community. This means that even those who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated will not encounter the disease. We call this ‘herd immunity’ and it can save lives.
Help eradicate diseases
If enough people in the community get immunised against a disease, the infection can no longer spread from person to person. The disease can die out altogether. For example, smallpox was eradicated in 1980 after a vaccination campaign led by the World Health Organization.
A similar campaign by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has succeeded in reducing the number of polio cases. There are now only a few cases remaining in the developing world.
In March 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that measles was eliminated in Australia. In October 2018, the WHO verified that Australia had also eliminated rubella. The National Immunisation Program played an essential role in this achievement by ensuring high levels of vaccination coverage for rubella.
But it is still important to maintain high levels of vaccination against measles and rubella. They can still come to Australia by travelers from countries where the disease is common.
National Immunisation Schedule from 1 July 2020
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children under 2 years of age are now funded to receive Mengingococcal B vaccine.
Individuals with specific medical risk conditions that increase the risk of invasive meningococcal disease are now funded under the National Immunisation Program to receive Meningococcal ACWY and B vaccines.
Over 70 years now receive Prevenar 13 (Pneumococcal) instead of at 65 years Pneumovax 23. Zostavax (Shingles) is provided at 70 years of age (70 to 79 years catch up only available till 31 October 2021).
Free influenza is provided to over 65 years, children 6 months to less than 5 years, pregnant women (at any time through each pregnancy), and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 6 months of age and those people with specified medical risk conditions.
Funded whooping cough for pregnant women, ideally between 20 and 32 weeks, but can be given up to delivery.