World Immunisation Week (26 - 30 April)
Each year in the last week of April, World Immunisation Week occurs. World Immunisation Week celebrates one of the most successful health interventions in living history which saves millions of lives each year. Immunisation has seen the eradication in most parts of the world of diseases such as smallpox and polio and before immunisation, diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria and measles caused serious illness and death in thousands of Australian children.
Immunisation is safe and effective, and it protects not just the individual but the whole community. If a large enough percentage of the community is immunised the disease does not spread very easily. This so called “herd immunity” protects those that cannot be immunized due to age (especially the very young) or sickness and it saves lives.
What is the difference between immunisation and vaccination?
This is a common question and often the two words are used interchangeably.
Vaccination is the receiving of a vaccine by an injection or drops in the mouth given by a healthcare professional.
Immunisation is the process of both receiving the vaccine and then the biological process of becoming immune to the disease.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines are made of or from a pathogen (an organism such as a virus or bacteria that causes disease). This can be either:
- a part of the pathogen
- a dead pathogen; or
- a severely weakened pathogen
When you are given a vaccine, your immune system makes antibodies to the pathogen. When you encounter the virus or bacteria in the future your immune system recognises it and quickly produces antibodies to fight the disease. This either prevents you from getting the disease or reduces the severity and complications of the disease.
Vaccinations by Pharmacists
Pharmacists first administered vaccines in Australia in a Queensland trial in 2014. Since then, pharmacists in all states and territories have been specially trained to vaccinate and conduct pharmacist immunisation programs. Pharmacist immunisation programs have been an important step forward to increase vaccination rates in Australia due to the ease and accessibility of being vaccinated by a pharmacist.
What vaccines can a pharmacist give?
Pharmacist vaccinations differ slightly in different states and territories, but the following is common to all
- Influenza vaccine from 10 years of age
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (dTpa) from 16 years of age
- Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) from 16 years of age
So, this World Immunisation Week be proud if you are fully vaccinated as you are a true hero and a protector of your community.