150 pre-schoolers are hospitalised in New Zealand each year due to preventable diseases.
Immunisation is the most effective way to actively protect your child from preventable diseases, ranging from whooping cough to meningitis and measles, whilst also preventing the spread of those diseases to others.
This week is Immunisation Awareness Week. Immunisations protect our tamariki from a number of diseases and are free to all children in New Zealand. During childhood, our children are exposed to thousands of germs, some of which are potentially harmful to their health. These diseases can have serious complications for babies, including death and can spread from older friends and whānau.
Starting immunisation at six weeks begins to provide protection during the most vulnerable periods of childhood. Early protection is important because the younger the baby, usually the more serious the disease. Immunisations then are given at 3, 5 and 15 months, and at 4 years.
Delaying or missing immunisations increases the risk of getting these diseases and reduces the protection when it’s needed most. Having all the immunisations is important for the best chance of strong protection. If your baby misses a dose, you can still catch up.
All immunisations are injections. Baby’s immune system responds to immunisation in the same way it would if the baby came into contact with the disease, but without the serious effects of the actual disease.
Immunisation uses the body’s natural defence mechanism, the immune response, to build resistance to specific infections. When an immunised person comes in contact with that disease in the future, their immune system will respond to prevent them developing the disease.
Immunisations have risks as well as benefits just like any medicine. Most children experience no harmful effects following immunisation and serious side effects are rare.
One of the main barriers to vaccination for some parents is the fear that the vaccine itself will cause harm to the child. This is despite the fact that the risk of adverse effects from vaccination is extremely low compared to the risks to the child if they contract the disease.
Parents may rely on the fact that the majority of other children are immunised to protect their own child. However, this simply increases the risk for everyone, by increasing the circulation of disease.
You can also give your child the best start by getting immunised during pregnancy. It is recommended that pregnant women have the free seasonal influenza and whooping cough booster vaccinations to protect both them and their unborn child.
Contact our GP Clinics or Tamariki Ora team for more information. FREE Phone 0800 808 4024.