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Vaccines, immunisation and preventing disease

Vaccines, immunisation and preventing disease

With the recent Covid-19 pandemic and other health issues in the news, you may be wondering about the part vaccines and immunisation play in preventing disease.

In this article, we’ll explain how vaccines work and reference the National Immunisation Program, which is an Australia-wide initiative to help prevent disease.

We’ll also look at other steps you can take to keep healthy and avoid illness.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways of preventing disease.

When you receive a vaccine, you are injected with a weakened form of the disease. This process stimulates your body’s own immune system. It will create its own antibodies or trigger other processes to help protect you from the disease you have been vaccinated against.

How does the National Immunisation Program work?

The National Immunisation Program is a schedule offering you vaccines available in Australia at specific times from birth right through to adulthood.

Your vaccines are recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register so your healthcare practitioner can check whether you are up-to-date with immunisation.

Childhood vaccines include hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. For most vaccines, children are offered more than one dose at specific intervals.

At the age of 12 to 13, children will also be offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against some, but not all, strains of HPV.

Older adults between 70 and 79 years are also offered a vaccine for shingles, an illness caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which tends to affect the elderly.

Pregnant women may also be offered an additional dose of the whooping cough vaccine to protect themselves and their unborn child.

In addition to these schedule vaccinations, you may be offered a free flu vaccine every year if you fall into a vulnerable category.

What if I’ve missed a vaccine?

If you’re aged under 20, an adult refugee or fulfil other humanitarian criteria, you will be eligible for free catch-up vaccines.

Find out more about catch-up immunisation here.

Additional vaccines

Individual states and territories fund some extra vaccines besides those on the program.

Get in touch with your local health department or GP to know more.

Covid-19 vaccination

All Australians aged five and over are also eligible for Covid-19 vaccination, which is offered in two doses. You can use this search facility to find a clinic near you offering the vaccine.

It’s recommended to get a booster as well to keep your immunity against Covid-19.

Find out more about Covid-19 vaccination here.

Do I need extra vaccines if I go travelling?

If you’re planning to travel to certain countries abroad, your doctor or travel clinic may recommend getting vaccinated against diseases such as hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, typhoid and yellow fever.

Read more on the government’s Immunisation for travel page.

What else can I do to prevent disease?

While vaccination is one of the surest ways to prevent disease, there are also lots of other things you can do to keep healthy.

Eat a balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet is key to keeping you healthy. The easiest way to practise healthy eating is to opt for foods from each of the following five groups every day:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables and legumes
  • Cereals and grains
  • Poultry, lean meat, eggs, fish, tofu, seeds, nuts
  • Cheese, milk, yogurt or dairy alternatives

You should also try to avoid foods high in sugar, salt and fat.

Exercise to stay fit

Being physically active is an excellent way to keep both your body and mind in good shape.

Try to take some exercise every day. Over a week, you should do either at least two and a half hours of moderate activity such as swimming or walking briskly or at least one and a quarter hours of vigorous activity like aerobics or jogging.

You can also try a combination of both moderate and vigorous activity.

Practise good hygiene

Make sure you wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And you can keep your hands germ-free in between handwashing by using a good-quality hand sanitiser.

If you go out in crowded places, wear a face mask. Face masks protect both you and the wider community from the spread of infections like Covid-19 and other diseases.

Helping you to take responsibility for your health

Vaccination plays an essential role in the prevention of disease, and we are blessed in Australia to have a national program to keep us protected.

In addition, we can all take responsibility for our health. This includes following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and practising good hygiene.

That’s why FeverMates has developed a range of health and wellbeing products to help keep you and your family avoid getting sick. Check out our collection online to know more.

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