Vaccines FAQ


Q: What is immunisation?

Vaccination provide a safe and efficient way to prevent the spread of many diseases. Immunisation protects community against harmful infections before they come in contact with them in the community. Main purpose of immunisation is to help communities is to stay healthy by reducing the incidence of serious infections. 1

Q: What’s the difference between immunisation and vaccination?

Vaccination means getting a vaccine meanwhile immunisation means both receiving a vaccine and becoming immune to a disease upon being vaccinated. 1

Q: How does immunisation work?

Every immunisation work in the similar way. When an individual is vaccinated, the body produces an immune response to the vaccine in the same way that it would after being infected by a disease, but without suffering from the symptoms of the disease. When the individual comes in contact with the disease in the future, their immune system will respond fast enough to prevent the person developing the disease or serious complications of the disease. 1

Q: What is the content of vaccines?

Vaccines contain small doses of either:

  • A live but weakened virus
  • A killed bacteria or virus, or small parts of bacteria
  • A modified toxin produced by bacteria

Vaccines may also contain either small amount of preservative or an antibiotic to preserve the vaccine.1

 

Chemicals used include suspending fluid (sterile water, saline or fluids containing protein), preservatives and stabilisers (albumin, phenols and glycine) and adjuvants or enhances that help improve the vaccine’s effectiveness. 3

Q: Are vaccines safe?

All vaccines must pass safety testing before being approved by the health authority. The testing is required by law and is usually done over many years during vaccine development. Before vaccines are made available for use, they are rigorously tested in human population. These human tests are monitored for safety. 1

Q: Why children require many Immunisations?

In first few years of a child’s life, a number of Immunisations are needed to protect them against serious infections. Children’s immune system does not function similarly as in older children or adults, because it is still immature. Therefore, more doses of vaccines are often needed. There are new vaccines being developed, number of injections is being reduced by the use of combined vaccines (where several vaccines combined in one injection). 1

Q: Why children must be immunised?

Children less likely to catch the disease if there are cases within the community and it is caught, they are likely to have mild symptoms. The benefit of protection against the disease outweighs the risk of Immunisation. 1

Q: How long does it take for immunisation to work?

Immune response to vaccines typically take 2 weeks to work. This means that protection from an infection does not occur immediately upon Immunisation. Certain vaccines require a number of doses to build a long-lasting protection. 1

Q: How long does immunisation lasts?

Certain immunisation protections can last up to 30 years meanwhile some immunisations such as influenza requires to be dozen annually due to frequent changes to the type of influenza virus circulating within the community. 1

Q: Will the immune system get overloaded due to immunisation?

Both children and adults come into contact with many antigens every day, and the immune system responds to each antigen in specific way to protect the body. Without a vaccine. 1

Q: Should parents be immunised?

Parents (including grandparents, carers and etc) who come into contact with young children are carriers of some childhood infections and should be vaccinated against these diseases. 1

Q: What diseases does vaccine protect against?

Immunising with vaccines protect a person against various diseases such as measles, whooping cough, polio, meningococcal disease, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, influenza and many more. 2

Q: Where can I get more information on travel vaccination?

Travelers should consult any GP doctors or medical centre, at least 6-12 weeks before departure for check-ups and to discuss on vaccination based on destination. 2

Q: Are there better ways to protect myself from diseases other than vaccination?

No. Breastfeeding provide temporary immunity against some minor infections like cold, it is not effective against specific diseases protected by vaccines. Similarly, vitamins do not protect against the bacteria or viruses that causes serious diseases. 2

Q: Is there still a need for vaccination with adequate levels of hygiene, sanitation and clean water?

Good hygiene, sanitation, clean water and nutrition are insufficient for stopping infectious diseases. If we don’t maintain optimum rates of immunisationor “herd immunity”, the diseases prevented by vaccination will return. While better hygiene, sanitation and clean water help protect people from infectious diseases, many infections can spread regardless of how clean we are. 4

Q: Do I need to be vaccinated against diseases that do not exist in my community or country?

Although vaccine-preventable diseases have become uncommon in many countries, the infectious agents that cause them continue to circulate in some parts of the world. In a highly inter-connected world, they can cross geographical borders and infect anyone who is not protected. Two key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect ourselves and to protect those around us. We should not rely on people around us to stop the spread of disease, we too must do what we can. 4

References:

  1. Immunise Australia Program (2015). Frequently Asked Questions. Available from: www.immunise.health.gov.au (Assessed: 22nd August 2017).
  2. Vaccine Basics (2016). Frequently Asked Questions. Available from: www.vaccineinformation.org (Assessed: 22nd August 2017).
  3. US CDC (2014). Common ImmunisationQuestions. Available from: www.cdc.gov (Assessed: 16th August 2017).
  4. WHO (2017). Questions and answers on immunisationand vaccine safety. Available from: www.who.int. (Assessed: 16th August 2017).

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