Vaccination and Immunisation

The human body has a natural immune system, which is acquired by the unborn child from its mother.

Further immunity from various diseases is acquired either from exposure to, and recovery from these infections, or through immunisation. The body produces antibodies to that infection, which remain in the tissues as part of the body’s immune system, which is able to “remember” these infectious organisms. These anti-bodies combat subsequent invasions of the same disease. Immunisation by vaccine is produced by the introduction of a dead or weakened form of this organism into the body. The immune system is simulated to respond by producing antibodies to thwart any future infections of the same disease.

 

By Di Peacock

"Vaccinations are important. Before they were available, many children died or became very sick. Although babies and children can still contract diseases and die, vaccination programs have been effective in controlling this."

 

In the past

Before vaccinations were available many children died or developed severe complications after suffering from infectious diseases. Even with modern medical care, a child contracting any of these diseases would suffer dangerous complications or die.

The benefits of vaccination

Vaccination programmes have been extremely effective in controlling some dangerous diseases and it is hoped by health authorities that once certain diseases are completely killed off there will be no need for vaccination.

In support of vaccinations

The majority of medical professionals worldwide seem to be of the opinion that the benefits of vaccination to the whole community and the prevention of the appalling consequences of the outbreak of infectious disease far outweigh any risks, which are minimal and affect only a few. In deciding whether to have your child immunised you need to weigh up the risks of the vaccine against those from the disease. Most vaccines have no side effects or only mild side effects, such as swelling and redness at the site of the injection or a mild fever. Some crying and irritability is fairly common.

Vaccinations
  • Birth: OPV 0 and BCG
  • 6 weeks: OPV 1 and DPT 1 and HepB 1 and Hib 1
  • 10 weeks: OPV 2 and DPT 2 and HepB 2 and Hib 2
  • 14 weeks: OPV 3 and DPT 3 and HepB 3 and Hib 3
  • 9 months: Measles 1
  • 18 months: OPV 4 and DPT 4 and Measles 2
  • 5 years: OPV 5 and DT Abbreviations
  • BCG: Bacillus Calmette Guerin vaccine
  • OPV Oral polio vaccine
  • DPT: Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus vaccine
  • HepB: Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Hib: haemophilus influenzae B vaccine