What is immunisation?
Immunisation means putting a special type of substance (a vaccine) into your body so that your body can learn how to fight an infection. That way, you will be protected (or immune) from getting sick if someone around you has the germs for that infection. There are immunisations for many different infections, including some nasty ones.
Immunisation is an easy and very safe way of protecting you. Immunisations are usually given as an injection (by a needle in your arm or leg) or sometimes as a medicine that you drink.
As a result of the UK’s national immunisation programme, a number of diseases have disappeared from the UK, such as polio. However, as they are still present in other countries they could come back, so it is vital that we remain as protected as possible. Maintaining high immunisation rates means that we not only protect ourselves, but also our families and communities and keep diseases at bay.
How do immunisations work?
An immunisation or vaccine contains a tiny part of the bacterium or virus that causes a disease, or tiny amounts of the chemicals the bacterium produces. By receiving vaccines, our immune systems are able to produce antibodies, which are substances to fight specific infections or diseases. This is so that if we later come into contact with the disease, our immune system already has the armour to recognise it and fight it off.
Are there any reasons why I should not be immunised?
There are very few medical reasons why you should not have a vaccine. If you are worried, talk to your school nurse or GP. You should not have a vaccine and should seek advice if you have had a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to a previous vaccine.
Where can you get your immunisations?
You will get most of your immunisations in school with a nurse. You may get some immunisations at the doctors too if you are going on holiday and need a different type of immunisation to the ones you need in this country.
When should I be immunised?
It is important that you are immunised at the right age. Your school or a trusted adult will let you know when you need to receive your immunisations.