Immunisation is the best way to protect your child from serious diseases. By immunising you are protecting your child as well as the broader community. The more people that immunise their children, the more we can control serious vaccine preventable diseases. High rates of immunisation produce ‘Herd Immunity” within the community, which keeps safe our most vulnerable community members, like babies and the very ill.
In Australia, immunisation coverage rates for children are high, with over 90 per cent of children fully immunised at one, two and five years of age. This high rate of immunisation helps to maintain herd immunity, especially for those who are too young to be immunised or those that are not able to be immunised for medical reasons.
Who needs vaccinations within the community?
Every member of the community at some stage will require vaccination to ensure ongoing good health and protection against vaccine preventable diseases. Certain members of the community may not be able to be vaccinated for medical reasons. Your general practitioner can assist you with deciding when and whether you need vaccinations by reviewing any underlying health conditions, assessing age appropriate vaccinations, as well as discussing any lifestyle or occupational hazards you may encounter.
Pregnancy Protection and Vaccination before pregnancy to Birth
Influenza (Flu) - Flu illness in pregnancy can be serious with an increased risk of premature labour and low birth weight. Flu vaccination during pregnancy is safe and effective and is strongly recommended for all pregnant women. Flu vaccine is free for pregnant women and also provides protection for your baby in the womb and for up to six months after birth.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) - Whooping cough is an infection that causes serious illness and, in some cases death, in babies who are too young to be vaccinated. The whooping cough vaccine protects you and your newborn from infection and is recommended before pregnancy on in the last three months of pregnancy, if you have not had the vaccine in the last five years.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella - If you catch measles, mumps or rubella during pregnancy you could have a miscarriage, premature delivery or your baby could be born with serious birth defects. If you are not protected you should be vaccinated. It is important that you do not become pregnant for 28 days after vaccination.
Chickenpox (Varicella) - Chickenpox can cause severe birth defects if you catch it during pregnancy. You should be vaccinated if you are not protected. Following vaccination, you must avoid becoming pregnant for 28 days.
Hepatitis B - All pregnant women are tested for hepatitis B infection, as it can pass to their baby during birth. If you have the disease, you should be seen by a specialist and your baby will need to be treated with a medication called ‘immunoglobulin’ and receive hepatitis B vaccine immediately after birth.
After the birth of your baby
It is safe for you to receive routine vaccinations immediately after birth, even if you are breast feeding . You should have the whooping cough vaccine if you have not received it in the last five years or the MMR vaccine if you are not immune to measles or rubella.
Your baby’s first vaccination, hepatitis B, is recommended just after birth and the next scheduled vaccinations are due when your baby is six – eight weeks of age.
Why do children get so many immunisations?
A number of immunisations are required in the first few years of a child’s life to protect them against the most serious infections of childhood. The immune system in young children does not work as well as the immune system in older children and adults, because it is still immature. Therefore, more doses of vaccine are often needed.
Another reason why children get many immunisations is that new vaccines against serious infections continue to be developed. However, the number of injections is also being reduced by the use of combination vaccines, where several vaccines are combined into one injection.
For details on Child and family services in South Western Sydney click here.