The Importance of Childhood Immunisation
In this day and age, even though we have better healthcare and hygiene standards, diseases still persist. Better hygiene and healthcare reduce the spread of diseases but they are not enough to eliminate them completely. This is because most diseases are passed from person to person. None are more vulnerable to these diseases than our children.
1. Your baby is very vulnerable to infections
Your baby is most vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases because they have not had the chance to fully develop their immune systems. Vaccines help train and strengthen your child’s immune system to protect from potentially life-threatening complications. This is why the National Immunisation Programme (a childhood immunisation schedule) recommends that children are vaccinated from birth onwards.
2. Protection offered through breast milk (maternal immunity) is not enough
Newborn babies may receive some immunity (in the form of antibodies) from their mothers during the last few weeks of pregnancy, provided the mothers were infected as children. They also receive antibodies when they drink their mothers’ breast milk. However, this maternal immunity only protects the baby from diseases that the mother is immune to and lasts just 9 months or so. Once the immunity wears off, infants will be at risk of catching diseases.
What Is Maternal Immunity?
Mothers are able to transfer whatever antibodies they have acquired to their newborn children through placental transfer and their breast milk. However, this immunity is only temporary because the antibodies are given and not produced by the body.
3. Immunity through natural infection is risky. Children’s bodies cannot always fight off these diseases.
In order to develop natural immunity to a disease, your child needs to catch and recover from the disease. This will put your child at risk of potentially life-threatening complications. Childhood immunisation offers protection that is as good as that of natural immunity, without your child suffering such risks.
4. Your child can still catch a dangerous infection even though your child seems healthy and strong.
So your toddler is running, shouting, and playing. However, there is no guarantee that a healthy child will always be free from infectious vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can infect normal people. They can strike when you least expect them to. If your child is vaccinated, he or she will be protected from these diseases.
5. Childhood Immunisation is the most effective way to protect children.
Besides preventing diseases, vaccines also work well with other global health tools such as antibiotics and breastfeeding. They are safe, effective and protect loved ones and communities. In fact, childhood immunisation saves roughly between 2-3 million children per year.
6. Immunity will wane over time, so remember to get the boosters.
Childhood immunisation confers immunity only for a certain period. Therefore, booster shots are required to re-stimulate the immune system. If your children don’t get their boosters on time, their protection maybe reduced.
Avoid delaying your child’s immunisation!
Different vaccines are given at varying intervals to safely build immunity. If your child misses their vaccination, they could be at risk of being infected by vaccine-preventable diseases which can threaten their life. To avoid this, follow their immunisation schedule. You should inform your doctor/nurses immediately and set a new appointment date if your child misses their vaccination.