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World Immunization Week is celebrated in the last week of April, and this year is held from 24-30 April. World Immunization Week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. It is estimated that immunisation prevents up to 3 million deaths worldwide each year. It also prevents many people being hospitalised and suffering ongoing health problems.

Immunisation is very safe and effective. It prevents the spread of highly infectious and life-threatening infections such as chicken pox (known as varicella), hepatitis, influenza, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough (known as pertussis). The benefits of immunisation far outweigh the risks of serious side effects.

Health authorities recognise immunisation as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions. Immunisation can offer protection from infections both on a global and community level. Even those who are too young to be immunised or those who cannot be immunised due to medical reasons can be protected by immunisation. They are protected when the people around them are immunised, because the infection can’t spread. This is called herd immunity. Herd immunity works most efficiently if a sufficient number of people (about 90% for most infections) are immunised. So through immunisation, you are not just protecting yourself against disease but also the entire population.

Immunisation strengthens the body’s immune system. The immune system fights infection in the body. A way of becoming immune to an infection is to receive a vaccine. Vaccines are dead or weakened versions of infection-causing germs (bacteria or viruses), parts of bacteria or weakened bacterial toxins. When you receive a vaccine, usually via an injection, your body produces antibodies that will help you fight an infection caused by that bacteria or virus.

In Australia, the National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule lists the recommended vaccines for infants, children, teenagers, older people and those at risk, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions. The recommended vaccines on the National Immunisation Program are available free to eligible people. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, or inquire at your local community centre about immunisation programs in your area.

It is very important that children receive all the recommended vaccines on the National Immunisation Program. Sometimes children also need to be given a vaccine that is not on the National Immunisation Program, such as a newly developed vaccine.

Immunity against many infections can last a long time, sometimes up to 30 years. However, some vaccines, such as influenza (known as the flu) are needed every year. This is because influenza viruses are constantly changing and a new vaccine is developed each year to give protection against the new variety of influenza. Get a yearly influenza vaccine to remain protected.

Common side effects of immunisation are swelling, redness and pain at the injection site, and mild fever. Most side effects only last a short time and the person recovers without any problems. Ask a doctor, pharmacist or immunisation clinic about side effects of immunisation. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can reduce fever and relieve discomfort after immunisation, if necessary.

For more information about immunistaion come in and speak to one of our friendly pharmacists Richard or Sam @ Davey Street Discount Pharmacy 179 Davey Street Hobart. Alternatively, call, email or message us at 6223 8243 / advice@dsdp.com.au or http://www.facebook.com/DaveyStreetDiscountPharmacy


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