Immunisation plays a vital role in preventing the resurgence of many diseases which used to kill.
Immunisation simply refers to the process of giving someone a vaccine and them becoming immune to the disease as a result of that vaccine. It uses the body’s natural defence mechanism to build resistance to specific infections, e.g. whooping cough or measles.
The coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic has prompted the World Health Organization to comment: ‘COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death. There is also some evidence that being vaccinated will make it less likely that you will pass the virus on to others, which means your decision to get the vaccine also protects those around you'.
Widespread immunisation helps to wipe out diseases thus protecting more people.
Immunisation is particularly important for babies and young children because their immune system is still immature, so they are more vulnerable to infection and serious complications. This is why babies receive so many vaccines in the first few months of their lives.
Vaccines are usually given by injection or oral drops. Routine vaccination is free; however, if you are travelling to a country where additional vaccinations are recommended, you may have to pay.
Why it’s important to vaccinate your child
No parent likes to see their baby or child distressed when they are being given an injection, but vaccinations only take a moment and they are quick, safe and effective.
Some children suffer some minor discomfort immediately afterwards, but serious side effects are very rare.
If you have doubts about vaccinating your child, remember:
- Diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough and polio have not been eradicated.
- The diseases being vaccinated against are much worse than any potential side effect from the vaccine.
- Once a child has been vaccinated their body will be able to fight the disease more effectively if they do catch it.
- By vaccinating your child, you are lowering the chance of a disease outbreak and helping other children.
- Immunisation protects future generations by reducing and in some cases eliminating a disease, e.g. smallpox.
- You can save your child’s life by making sure they receive all their vaccinations.
For more information about immunisation and all recommended vaccinations visit NHS 111 Wales.
Public Health Wales lists all the vaccinations your child can expect to be offered up to the age of 16.
Routine vaccination protects against serious diseases here in the UK.
If you are planning to travel abroad with your child, it’s possible they may need additional vaccinations to protect them against infectious diseases that are not found here, e.g. yellow fever or malaria.
Most vaccinations should be given at least a month before travel so allow plenty of time for your child to get all the vaccines they need. Ask your GP if you are unsure about vaccination.
For more information on travel vaccines visit NHS Wales. Fit for Travel also has detailed advice on vaccination for all travellers.