What is Immunisation?
Immunisation, also called vaccination, is a medical process to make your child immune or resistant to infections or diseases by administering a vaccine.
A vaccine is a medical substance, usually given as an injection, to help prevent infectious diseases by stimulating the child’s immune system.
Significance of Immunisation
After your child is born, they will grow with some protection against certain infections and diseases. This is thanks to maternal antibodies passed to the foetus before birth, and later through breast milk after birth. But in both cases, the protection is temporary.
Your child, with their immune system still developing, is exposed to many infections or diseases caused by pathogens like bacteria or viruses. These can lead to serious health problems and even result in death. Therefore, your child's immune system needs additional help to fight and protect against certain infections or diseases.
Immunisation is essential to your growing child’s health. It boosts your child’s young immune system and helps them to cope with or fight against potential infections and life-threatening diseases. Your child needs to be immunised early in life so that there is less chance of illness.
When does Your Child Need Immunisation?
Typically, your child needs to get immunised before reaching 2 years of age and before the child starts attending school. Your child may need several doses of vaccines at regular intervals to be fully protected.
How does the Immunisation Work?
Immunisation is usually given as shots (injections) or occasionally as nasal sprays. Vaccines injected into your child’s body stimulate the production of antibodies and strengthen their immune system. Each time your child is exposed to the pathogens again, the immune system will recognise the virus or bacterium and produce the necessary antibodies to prevent an infection or a disease.
Immunisations for Your Child
The most common infections or diseases for which immunisation is recommended include but are not limited to the following:
- Influenza (flu): Viral infection of the lungs and respiratory passages
- Chickenpox: Viral disease leading to an itchy, blister-like rash on the skin
- Polio: Viral disease that attacks the nervous system, leading to paralysis
- Tetanus (lockjaw): Bacterial disease resulting in stiffness in the muscles
- Diphtheria: Bacterial infection affecting the throat and nose
- Rotavirus: Viral infection causing severe diarrhoea and dehydration
- Hepatitis A: Highly contagious liver infection caused by a virus
- Hepatitis B: Liver infection caused by a virus
- Tuberculosis (TB): A dangerous bacterial infection that attacks the lungs
- Measles (all types): Viral disease with rashes all over the body
- Mumps: Viral infection affecting the salivary glands
- Pertussis (whooping cough): Highly contagious respiratory tract infection
- Pneumococcal vaccine for prevention of chest infection, meningitis and ear infection caused by Streptococcal serotypes which is a bacterial infection.
Always consult your doctor or provider for the correct immunisation programme to discuss the number of shots, the dosage, schedule of immunisation and risks and side effects for the best outcome.
Concerns of Immunisation
Generally, immunisation is safe. However, it may cause mild side-effects like swelling or irritation at the injection site, temporary headache, low-grade fever, fatigue or loss of appetite, sore arms and legs and in some cases allergies.
Bottom line: Immunisation protects your child from a host of serious infections or diseases and prevents the spread to other children. It is effective, can save lives and has minimal risk compared to the infections or diseases it prevents or protects your child from.
No wonder immunisation has made many dangerous childhood diseases a rarity today!