There has been a lot in the news lately regarding immunisations, and getting children immunised, however it is equally important for other Australians to ensure that they are immunised as well.
Immunisations are provided to protect your health as well as those around you.
Protecting the community is often referred to as the “herd mentality”, meaning that if the majority of the herd are immunised then those within our community who are unable to be immunised, due to, ill health, extreme allergies, or age are also protected, as an outbreak is far less likely if everyone else is immunised and therefore not spreading the disease.
Many people commonly referred to as antivaxxers (anit-vaccine) do not allow their children to be immunised due to fears of extreme reactions to the drugs in vaccines, many of these have recently been proven as unfounded, especially in relation to vaccines causing autism.
It is not my place to comment further on this as people will have very strong opinions regarding immunisations, personally with two young children I wish that all those who were capable of being immunised would be, but I understand that people feel differently, the rest of this article will deal with why people may be asking you to ensure that your immunisations are up to date, this is not an article that is meant to bring the antivaxxer debate to the forefront, rather it is intended to provide an insight into what vaccines are available and the reasons people in your family, or circle of friends are asking you to go and check your vaccinations are up to date.
One of the first reasons that people may ask you to check your vaccinations are up to date, is if they have just had a baby, a small child or a child that has been born prematurely or is allergic to vaccines.
These groups of society may not have yet received the vaccines as their immune systems are too delicate to handle the immunisation, and furthermore in some of these cases their immune systems may already be delicate or compromised so, if they were to come in contact with the disease they may not be able to handle the disease in the same manner as an adult or child with a strong immune system, and it can very quickly become a serious situation even resulting in death. If you have been blessed with a new baby in your family, simply ask the parents of the baby or your Dr. which shots you need in order to ensure the child’s safety. Sometimes you may not require any, other times you may require a booster shot, or depending on when you were born, you may require a full shot. Often if you are in a certain age bracket these shots will be free anyway as they also ensure that if you become ill you are not susceptible to diseases if your immune system becomes compromised.
A further point to remember is even if you have had all your shots and for some reason you do become unwell, with a stomach virus or the sniffles or a cold, ask the parents if they still wish you to visit, as these can also be a serious issue for this group in society.
A second reason you may be asked to check your vaccines is if someone you intend on visiting is ill, this may be a new illness that has weakened their immune system, it may be an illness that they have been aware of for a long time or it might be due to a compromised immune system stemming from a premature birth. It is again particularly important to avoid visiting these family and friends if you have recently been ill or you feel like you have an illness coming on, it is not worth it.
You may also be asked to check that your vaccines are up to date if you are travelling, this should be done well in advance of travel plans because often the vaccine schedule for certain diseases is a prolonged schedule that requires several shots over a certain timespan.
You may require vaccines if you plan on travelling overseas that are not required in Australia, this is because other countries may have diseases that we do not have in Australia for various reasons.
Finally you may be asked by family, friends or your physician if your vaccines are up to date for your own health or to save you money.
At certain stages throughout life, vaccines are offered to groups within our community at a reduced rate, or for free, this is because the government has deemed, that receiving vaccines at these points in time, is the most efficient way to ensure that the vaccines work and that they keep our society safe from preventable disease out breaks.
http://immunise.health.gov.au/ 1800 671 811
This website is a government website that has a range of links to immunisation data, immunisation handbooks as well as some publications and resources.
The National Immunisation register will also provide you information on what to do if you have an adverse reaction
This site will also provide you with some information regarding the safety of immunisations and links to databases related to this:
The immunisation handbook – this contains a range of information regarding vaccinations, special groups, as well as contact information across states and territories .
The immunisations that are covered by the National immunisation program(http://immunise.health.gov.au/ ) are :
Shingles ( over 70)
Pneumococcal and Influenza.
These programs are free for anyone 65 and over or 50 and over for Aboriginals and Torres strait Islanders.
For information regarding these vaccine programs you can visit these sites:
Please see our article.
Please note that other immunisations that are not covered are also recommended(http://www.nps.org.au/medicines/immune-system/vaccines-and-immunisation/for-individuals/who-should-be-vaccinated/older-people)
and you should always consult a Dr. and health care professional regarding immunisations .
Here are a few things to remember when visiting your Dr or health care professional to receive your vaccines:
- Your age
- Previous vaccinations
- Are you a special group
- Travel plans
- Family and living situation, as you may need to protect others such as grandchildren.
- Work or volunteer work