Your baby and immunisation
The immunisation process protects children and adults against harmful infections that circulate in our communities before you come into contact with them. By exposing your body to a small amount of a specific infection through immunisation, your immune system responds - as it should - by building a response which will protect your body should you ever be exposed to that infection again in the future.
Almost all New Zealand adults who have grown up in this country were vaccinated as children, and as a consequence, many of the illnesses that struck down children 100 years ago are now a rarity. There are nine diseases that are preventable by childhood immunisation. All of these can cause serious complications that can potentially result in death. They are:
- whooping cough
- poliomyelitis (polio)
- haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- hepatitis B
All immunisations are given via injection.
Immunisation and vaccination
The term vaccination refers to actual process of getting the immunising injection, whereas immunisation refers to the process of both getting the vaccine and your body's immune response. While most people use the terms interchangeably, they are slightly different because it is possible - though unusual - that your body may not have an immune response as a result of vaccination.
Why should I have my child immunised?
- By immunising your child, you are offering her the safest and most effective form of protection against many serious diseases. After immunisation, your child has protection against many diseases that can still circulate in the community - the benefit of this protection far outweighs the rare complications associated with immunisation.
- The infection can be taken out of the community if enough people are immunised. Without carriers to spread these diseases, it is possible to eradicate serious diseases entirely - this is how smallpox has disappeared from the world.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot New Zealand. Sources include Immunise Australia Program.