Celebrated every year towards the end of April, Immunisation Week aims to promote the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease.
Immunisations save millions of lives every year and is recognised as one of the worlds most successful health interventions. Yet there are still millions of people who are not getting the vaccines they need either through choice or a lack of access and information.
While the world focuses on critically important new vaccines to protect against COVID-19, there remains a need to ensure routine vaccinations are not missed. Many children have not been vaccinated during the global pandemic, leaving them at risk of serious diseases like measles and polio.
Rapidly circulating misinformation around the topic of vaccination has been preventing some people from coming forward for their vaccinations including those most at risk from the diseases they could be immunised against.
As you will have seen in the news last week, all over 50’s in England have been offered the COVID-19 vaccination with over 165,000 people in Doncaster now having received their first dose, which is brilliant.
We are aware that some people are still hesitant about getting a jab, even though the research has shown that the vaccines are safe and have a massive positive impact on hospitalisations.
I strongly advise people to come forward and receive the jab when called to do so because it is saving lives within our community and helping many of us return to some sense of normality after what has been a very hard time for us all throughout the pandemic.
Coronavirus aside, today there are vaccines available to protect against at least 20 diseases, such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza meningitis and measles. Together, these vaccines save the lives of up to 3 million people every year.
When we get vaccinated, we aren’t just protecting ourselves, but also those around us. Some people, like those who are seriously ill, are advised not to get certain vaccines – so they depend on the rest of us to get vaccinated and help reduce the spread of disease.
Vaccines protect us throughout life and at different ages, from birth to childhood, as teenagers and into old age.
When a baby is born parents will be given a personal child health record, this will list the vaccinations they need and dates at which they should be given. Your GP practice will contact you to arrange the first vaccination and have been continuing to deliver vaccinations as a priority throughout the pandemic. Children have vaccinations at a young age because they are often at the greatest risk of diseases due to their immune systems not being fully developed, and their bodies are less able to fight off infection.
The Flu vaccination is offered to children ages 2-10 and adults over the age of 65, additionally people with certain underlying health conditions may also be offered the vaccine by their local practice.
For a full list of vaccinations and when to have them visit the NHS website where you can find out more about each of the vaccines and how they can protect you.
Like any medicine, vaccines can cause mild side effects, such as a low-grade fever, or a tender spot and redness at the injection site. Mild reactions go away within a few days on their own. Long-lasting side effects are extremely rare and are monitored and recorded to ensure the safety of vaccines.
Over the last year we have all spent a lot of time indoors, preventing us from building up our immune system, so now more than ever its important that if you are due a vaccination you get it done so that you keep yourself and your loved ones safe.