Benefits of immunisation
Immunisation is a simple and effective way of protecting children and adults against certain diseases. They are recommended for people at certain ages or life stages and for those who may be at increased risk.
Immunisation works by triggering the immune system to fight against certain diseases. If a vaccinated person comes in contact with these diseases, their immune system is able to respond more effectively. This either prevents the disease from developing or reduces the severity.
Immunisation not only protects your own family, but also others by helping control serious diseases in our community.
Immunisation is a very safe prevention tool.
All vaccines used in Australia undergo extensive research and must be approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), who monitors the safety of medicines in Australia. Before a vaccine can be licensed, it is rigorously tested in thousands of people in progressively larger clinical trials over several years to ensure it is safe and works.
Any concerns about vaccine safety should be raised with your doctor or immunisation provider.
Serious reactions to immunisation are rare. While some people may experience mild side effects such as pain, swelling and redness at the injection site, these usually resolve quickly. If you experience any symptoms that concern you, contact 13 HEALTH or your doctor/immunisation provider.
All vaccine service providers are required to report any serious reactions following immunisation to Queensland Health. This information is then sent to the TGA which rigidly monitors and manages vaccine safety in Australia.
Vaccines on the National Immunisation Program Schedule are funded for all eligible children and adults in Queensland.
The Australian Government is responsible for deciding which vaccines will be included on the National Immunisation Program.
Extra vaccines are provided for some groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with particular medical conditions that make them more susceptible to disease.
In Queensland, pregnant women can have a free whooping cough vaccine in their third trimester.
Deciding to immunise
The risk of side effects from an immunisation is far less than the risk of severe complications associated with a vaccine preventable disease.
Many vaccine preventable diseases are highly contagious and can be overwhelming to a person's immune system. Most unvaccinated people who come into contact with an infected person will catch the disease. For example, where there is a case of whooping cough, up to 90 per cent of unimmunised household contacts will catch the disease.
This means it is not only important for babies to be vaccinated against whooping cough, but also for all family members to be up to date with their boosters. Vaccination records might be needed to enrol your child in childcare or school. Unvaccinated children will be excluded from school if there is an outbreak of certain vaccine preventable diseases.
Queensland children currently have a high vaccination rate with more than 90 per cent of five-year-old children entering primary school being fully immunised.
Doing further research
If you are conducting research about vaccination, make sure the information sources you use are credible and backed by scientific research.
Look at who produced the information
The individuals or groups should be qualified to talk about vaccination. Beware of information attributed to unnamed ‘noted researchers’ or ‘world-renowned scientists’. Consider what their educational background is, what other work they have published, or whether this research might be motivated to try and sell something.
Decide if the information is scientifically sound
Medical researchers discover truth by testing their findings repeatedly to be sure that their thinking and methods are not flawed, influenced by their own assumptions, or affected by special circumstances. Studies should carefully weigh evidence based on fact and acknowledge any limitations.
Studies should have a significant sample size (studies with hundreds of participants or cases bear more weight than descriptions of a single case). The most useful studies compare findings in one group of people with the findings in another group (control group). The findings should be able to be repeated by other researchers. If one conclusion is found in three studies, but a different conclusion is found in 30 studies, we can assume that the second conclusion is more likely to be correct. Be wary of people who proclaim that they, and only they, have discovered the ‘hidden truth’.
Studies should be endorsed by universities, professional associations or published in recognised peer-reviewed publications.
Check if the sources are listed
Trustworthy research would always include the author’s credentials, contact details and further references, and/or a recommended reading list. This material should be available to the public for free either online or through a public library. Be wary of reading lists that generate income for an author, organisation or website owner.
- Immunisation is important for children - why parents should choose to immunise their children
- Answers to common questions - extensive research has been undertaken to investigate questions and concerns parents may have about immunisation
- Deciding to vaccinate your children - information to help parents choose to immunise their children.
- Doing further research - learn more about how to research vaccines and what sources you should trust.
- Research: whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine for pregnant women - overview of some key findings about the safety, efficacy and acceptability of a pertussis vaccination program for pregnant women.
- Immunise Australia
- Australian Childhood Immunisation Register
- National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance