Immunisation is regarded as one of the greatest achievements in medical history, preventing millions of illness-related deaths over the years. Before immunisation, diseases like measles, meningitis and polio would claim the lives of thousands people every year.
What is Immunisation?
Immunisation is the word we use for the process of creating immunity (protection against a disease) by artificial means. This immunity is created through the use of a serum called a vaccine; usually in the form of an injection.
When somebody is given a vaccine (this process is called vaccination), their body learns how to recognise a certain disease, and how to fight it off effectively. We can then say that the patient has immunity (protection) against the disease.
Why is Immunisation Important?
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that immunisation currently saves as many as three million lives every year.
- Immunisation is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available.
- Prevention is better than cure; immunisation can last for years, or even a lifetime, preventing the need for other costly medications and treatments.
- Vaccines are highly accessible to those who could otherwise not afford comprehensive healthcare. Most vaccines for children are available free of charge at local public clinics and community health centres.
- Immunisation is safe, and becoming safer and more effective all the time thanks to advanced medical research and development.
- Immunisation is the most important and effective way for parents to protect their children against serious diseases. Many serious childhood illnesses can be completely prevented by giving children the necessary vaccines.
- Immunisation doesn’t just protect the individual being vaccinated; it also creates “herd immunity”, by reducing the spread of disease within the community.
Did You Know? Since the introduction of vaccines, the rates of diseases caused by the haemophilus influensae type B bacterium have declined by 90%. That means a 90% drop in polio, measles, hepatitis B, rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough and meningitis!
What Happens without Immunisation?
- Children who have not been immunised are at high risk of becoming infected with serious diseases.
- Some serious (and deadly) infectious diseases can only be prevented through immunisation; there are no effective alternatives.
- For vaccines to provide herd immunity, a certain percentage of individuals within a community need to be immunised. If immune coverage starts to drop, the risk of disease will rise and outbreaks will start occurring.
- Only once a disease has been completely eradicated worldwide can immunisation be discontinued safely. Many of these diseases have become very rare, but could return if immunisation rates fall.
- Immunisation is there to keep you and your family safe. Without it, the health we take for granted could be very seriously threatened, with long-gone diseases returning in epidemic proportions.
If you have any questions about immunisation, our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day.